Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Perspectives On the Go

When I am driving a car, whether in Pittsburgh, New York City, or Jersey City, I tense up the moment I see a cyclist. Here I am, trying to control this massive hunk of metal, and there goes some guy, exposed to the elements, wearing little more than an eggshell strapped to his head, pedaling away on that flimsy toothpick-thick vehicle. Right there in my lane! Merely driving a car is a big enough responsibility; I don’t need the added stress of trying to avoid hitting him.

When I am riding a bicycle, however, I fully expect the cars to swerve around me. If they can’t move a little closer to that double yellow line in the middle of the street, then they don’t deserve to be driving a car at all. And anyway, shouldn’t they feel some sort of compassion? Here I am, subject to wind and rain and dirt particles and deafening horn blasts, trying to burn a few calories and save a little ozone layer by riding my bike, and these big bullies in their hatchbacks and SUVs can’t scoot over three inches to give me a little breathing room.

Then, as I'm cycling along, minding my own business, a pedestrian steps out into the street. No matter if they are five feet or five yards in front of me, I start to panic. Are they going to get out of my way quickly enough? Can I possible brake in time if they don’t? I’m terribly bad at swerving, and there’s no way I’ll ever make it up onto that curb. How dare they step out like that! Didn’t they see me coming? I’m practically a pedestrian, too!

My most frequent mode of transportation, however, is by foot. And when I am crossing the street and see a bicyclist careening toward me, I deliberately keep my pace even and unhurried. Cyclists are driving vehicles, technically, so they’re subject to traffic laws, too! And a red light means “Stop!”

With cars, on the other hand, I’ll take my chances. Even if that crosswalk light has turned red, I probably have enough time to get across the street. After all, what are they going to do, hit me?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How funny it is to see your in-group bias constantly changing!You would think after this experience you would commit the fundamental attribution error less and understand how a situation can influence someone. hehe. Although I do agree that when I am a pedestrian I hate when cyclists just zoom through the cross walk but act like a car in every other way.