Not Evangelism

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cyclists make more considerate car drivers

There, I've said it.

I have this notion that everyone who drives a car every day should ride a bike, on the roads somewhere, maybe once a month.  I tell you, it'll change the world.

I cycle regularly, and when I'm driving my car, I know from personal experience how vulnerable a cyclist feels on a narrow stretch of road. I know how blind a particular corner is, and that knowledge informs my driving, slows me down; makes me much more likely to anticipate a situation rather than react to one.

I'm not claiming I'm a wonderful driver. But I have the advantage of a different perspective on the road. Riding a bike gives a car driver an additional perspective; the discovery of a slight hill you didn't notice before, and potholes that may cause a cyclist to pull out, or wobble a little. I'm aware of all the considerations that make cycling what it is.

By swapping the bucket seat for the saddle, even once a month, car drivers would gain this perspective, this reminder. They'd develop their sense of the road even further, even deeper. Their driving would get better. They'd benefit from improved road-sense; something that can't be taught, only learned.  How wide to drive, how much of a gap to leave, the time needed to anticipate, understand, react to a situation involving cyclists and other, slower road users.

And maybe those car drivers would get a reminder of the joy of cycling.  Of not being stuck inside a metal-and-glass box on a glorious day. Of a more immediate connection between body and machine.

Drivers make better cyclists

And guess what?  Drivers make more considerate cyclists.

What symmetry!  Let's have everyone that cycles every day drive a car, once a month. I'm not being partisan here, folks.  Getting behind the wheel of a car is a reminder to cyclists. That glimpse of how far down the road to look, of how wide to pass.

Driving a car would bestow an additional perspective upon habitual cyclists, a reminder that there are other people out there. And, possibly, the satisfaction that cycling is, for them, preferable.

All I'm saying is that we can all benefit from seeing the other side of the road. And we could all use more consideration on the roads.

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