Friday, November 26, 2010

Part 1-Meeting the Challenge on the Roads-Civility and Incivility

     In following up with the previous post regarding "civility" I thought I'd start a four part series related to the "Diversity, Inc." article.  The first part I'm going to speak to "civility" on the roads.  The second part will deal with "civility" amongst our youth whether it be in our schools or outside the schools, next the relationship between co-workers and the "establishment" of a variety of workplaces and lastly "civility" in politics.
     The term "road rage" did not exist when I was a youth.  Life seemed to be simpler when I was growing up. I imagine there were a great challenges even then but I didn't pay attention to them as much as it seems I do now.  Don't get me wrong there were growing pains but nothing like I've experienced and seen today.
     One example that I tell to this day is when I had a paper route.  I would ride my bike right down the middle of the road in the small southeastern town that I live and cars would gently move over or slow to a crawl as we moved to the side of the road.  It was the "driver" looking out for us and in a matter of fact way them being careful not to cause an accident. There was "civility" amongst those on the road.  There seemed to be no distractions except for the "A.M." radio that existed in the cars, and perhaps an occasional cigarette that some folks would have.  Both at times caused you to take your eye off the road but only for a fraction of a second.
     Riding down "South Main Street" and delivering the Hartford Courant was so easy in the 1960's. Today when cycling I find that most people are careful but there are those that just think we don't belong on the road.  Also, I have to say that even cyclists at times think that because they are on a "bike" that they don't have to follow the laws of the road. Yes, it's a two way street, pun intended.  Although most drivers and cyclist do follow the rules of the road so to speak some don't and this causes many moments of strife. I've been screamed at, swerved at, tooted at, but mostly what I find when cycling it those that are on their cellphones that cause me the most anguish.  It's amazing how many people still don't follow that law.  I've had a cellphone for about three weeks and yes I have had it in my car but still have not used it when driving.  I experience enough distractions as it is then to add one on my own.  My advice for cyclists follow the rules of the road and be aware of inconsiderate drivers.  Be careful out there.
     As a pedestrian/runner it's mind boggling what I see when out there on the roads.  I'm tempted to do an experiment one day by standing, yes simply standing near a crosswalk and tallying how many cars drive by without stopping to let you go across. Yes, I know that in the town I live that there are crosswalks on our busy "Main Street" that runs through the center. However, it's the law.  It would be interesting to see how many cars would stop out of one hundred. I'll have to try that some day and report back.
     I've experienced cars cutting you off, cars coming at you and once again because of being a distracted driver by being on their phone.  Also, I just get the feeling that some drivers just think a runner/walker shouldn't be near the road or on the road.
     A point that's important to make is that "runners/walkers" should also abide by the rules of the road.  Running away from traffic on sidewalks is one alternative. Running/walking in a safe park is another. When you choose to run/walk on the roads be careful, be aware of the roads you travel. It's imperative that you face traffic. I've seen runners/walkers traveling with the traffic.  One of the most important things a runner/walker should do is dress appropriately with bright clothes(reflective type) so cars can pick you up visually. I have to admit I have been guilty of wearing clothes that are difficult to see. I use a blinking light as a caution to drivers however I know that I can't be seen from behind so that's why I face traffic or run on the sidewalks. Running/walking near a corner is also tricky.  Cars cannot see you when you run near a corner so the rule of the road is to get on the other side briefly and get past the corner to then cross back and continue on your way. Be careful out there when walking/running and remember you too have to follow the rules of the road.
     Lastly, driving it simply chaotic and dangerous at times.  I've experienced some pretty interesting moments on the main streets of our town, the highways in and out of it, and of course driving in our larger towns and cities.  I can also qualify that I've driven across country two times back and forth, and traveled the roads of southern California numerous times.  It seems that people are in too much of a hurry or just so distracted at times that incidents occur. I'm lucky to say I've never experienced "road rage" and that's probably because I usually will be courteous to others on the road.  I've been "flipped" off for odd reasons but nothing beyond that. I suppose that if I did the same back and followed the person I could get into a problem but common sense prevails and I let those situations just roll off my back.
     You can certainly see how "road rage" can occur. People just don't pay attention and there are too many distractions.  When someone is angry and in a vehicle there's a chance that an incident can explode into a horrible situation.  I'm not going to speak to incidences of road rage at this point. We all have heard about them, seen them on television, and know that some horrific results can occur.  Be safe, be courteous to others, and know when a situation can potentially escalate and usually safety will prevail.
     In concluding whether a pedestrian, a cyclist, or in your car know that you should be courteous to others, time your trips by leaving early, be aware of your surroundings, and simply enjoy travel whichever way you choose to get from one point to another. It's mind boggling why people are angry and why they choose to take it out on those on the road.  Simply speaking, treat each other with respect and dignity and the world will be a better place. Be civil, not uncivil and life will be peaceful.  You can't let people step all over you but use common sense when traveling.
     I try and relate each blog to the them "Everyone's Shadow Is The Same Color" but this time I thought I'd try and generate some of your thoughts. How do you think it relates to it? What have you experienced out there as a "driver, pedestrian or cyclist"?  It would be interesting to see your comments. As usual thanks for reading.

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