I know that there may always be a fundamental divide with humans in automobiles and humans on bicycles. I have learned to try to phrase it this way because of the divide and motorists/cyclists relieve the discussion of its humanity. The importance of involving humanity is because, when in our own world such as walking, biking, driving or even sitting in your living room, you want your liberty to be oneself. As much as we share the streets or even the world on a daily basis we are still fundamentally solo in this endeavor which is why it’s all too easy to notice the other humans tampering with our own.
People are good. I believe this, fundamentally. It’s our understanding of what is good that conflict with others. Here’s the thing, though; people are dicks too. This dickish nature is much easier to notice especially when in my personal bubble attempting to enjoy my liberties. What am I really getting at? Everyone turns into their base id when driving. We are fundamental, and a bit carnal. I’m not sure why, but you will see someone become more aggressive, outlandish, or even passive. It just happens.
We all know the friend that loses more than just their cool when cut off on the freeway even though it does almost nothing to impact them for more than a second or two. We all know someone that seems to disobey societal structure by driving on the shoulder to get around people. But to that point we all know someone that, when walking across a somewhat busy street, make cars slow or stop for them with a devil-may-care attitude. These attitudes can give a real glimpse into one’s base self. I’m not saying this is who they really are, but I am suggesting that it is a representation of a very real part of that person.
This representation of your hidden self that comes out when travelling is something on which I have attempted personal growth. It is harder than expected. I am an apprehensive person in a car. I treat my world as everyone a second away from careening out of control. I’m a good driver, but this does little good for me as a person. What I’d like to see happen is that my base self, the one in my car or on my bike, acknowledge the humans around. I’d like to try to remember that we’re all attempting to get somewhere at that particular time. When I travel I can’t help but notice poor cyclists and drivers and the humans behind it. I have felt the wrath, caused the wrath and been the person behind the wrath. All this because of the divide from on car to another, bike to car, car to pedestrian etc. Almost every moment of real anger in a car or travelling in general, just takes a second and it’s gone from your life forever and we should try to let it be that. But hell, when the rush hour comes around I’ll probably be that angsty beast I preach against again.
Last week, I was biking with my wife and we hit an intersection with a red light stopping us. We did so accordingly and noticed a left turn arrow from the opposite direction directing traffic to pass in front of us as we waited at the curb. At this point, a driver stopped just beyond the crosswalk stopping cars behind her and began trying to wave us through. I shook my head trying to let her know that I wouldn’t go intro traffic even if she was willing to hold everyone up. She began to wave feverishly and someone honked behind her. I simply stepped off of my bike and showed here that I would not do this for the sake of my safety. Moreover, I would not do this because I fervently stand behind trying not to be a creator of such an unnecessary divide between humans on bikes and humans in cars. She was obviously trying to “just be nice” much to the ire of the several cars she was impeding though she had the absolute right of way. At this point, she grew angry, yelled something at us, threw her hands up and sped off. My wife and I looked at each other a bit astonished at just how mad someone could get by virtue of attempting to be nice and our lack of acquiescence. We briefly discussed how it was unsafe, illegal, and how she shouldn’t expect that of someone on a bike which is far more vulnerable than one in a car. We found ourselves getting angry in a how-dare-she attitude. As we did this, another car crossed in front of us, slowed, and gave a simple smile and a thumbs up. We were taken right out of our personal liberty bubble of anger and I was again reminded to try to be the person I want to be, even when travelling.