Smile Politely

A.D.D. and the Right of Way

I was able to catch some of WPGU’s five o’ clock newscast on Thursday afternoon. I really liked the investigative report that was done on who has the legal right of way between bicyclists and pedestrians on the Quad. One of WPGU’s reporters interviewed this poor little girl who had been mowed down by a guy on a bicycle. She said that as she was pretty cut up from the incident and that the guy yelled at her, then took off down the street, pissed that she got in his way.

The reporter then interviewed a University Police Officer who stated that pedestrians do have the right of way and that the bicyclists in the aforementioned incident should have received a ticket. The reporter went on to state that only 30% of bicyclists actually ride legally and that illegal acts can result in traffic violations, which can impact a person’s driving record.

The reason why I found this interesting was primarily because the image of the girl getting nailed by a guy on a bike brought back some memories of similar incidents that I witnessed when I was a student here. Each time I saw someone get hit, the person steering the bike would slide across the pavement, the pedestrian’s books would go flying, tears would be shed and the irascible bicyclist would usually be the one who got lewd and irate. I once saw a guy on a bike threaten to beat up this diminutive freshman; the freshman cowered away like a frightened bunny. It was sad, yet amusing at 8 a.m. On the other hand, I can recall a bicyclist who wasn’t on the bike path, who ran into this huge dude, and the pedestrian threatened to kick the bicyclist’s ass. The guy on the bike was incredibly scared and apologized numerous times, just to save his life.

I am always the type of person who will at first laugh at someone else’s misfortune. Call me an insensitive ass, but I guess all those years of watching cartoons has left me somewhat numb to human suffering. That really is no excuse, but it will work for now.

Before I get too sidetracked here – although I would love to reference Family Guy episodes – I need to get to a point. The point is that people need to pay attention a little bit more.

Last week I was driving and this woman blew through a stop sign on her bike, narrowly missing a car and narrowly missing a sojourn to the emergency room. She didn’t even seem to care. I also saw a jogger run across Green Street without looking, as if our cars have this miraculous sensor that warns of Steve Prefontaines. Some people have high-pitched sensors attached to the front of their cars, designed to frighten deer on the road. Maybe we can have something made that wil frighten humans who are thinking about crossing the street. Perhaps we could just strap pictures of Rosie O’Donnell to the front of our vehicles. No one would cross the street without looking and if they saw Rosie’s face bearing down on them; they would wet themselves out of fear.

I don’t want to blame iPods and cell phones for our negligence, but these technological devices do play a key role. I can’t remember the exact year, but wasn’t someone hit by a bus while crossing Wright Street, while listening to their iPod? Look at what just happened with the train wreck in California, too. The deaths of 25 people could be partially be blamed on an engineer who thought text messaging was more important than looking for that huge train barreling straight towards him. If he was texting at the time, I hope it was a worthwhile message.

I know that this article is going to possibly get comments from bicyclists and pedestrians alike who might place blame on one another for no good reason. I think we are all to blame. I know that I am. I talk on the phone while driving, yet when I’m riding my motorcycle and someone pulls out in front of me while talking on their phone, I get pissed. I then realize how much of a hypocrite I am.

I don’t know why I don’t pay attention sometimes. Maybe it’s because I can’t stop thinking about John McCain staring at Sarah Palin’s ass. Maybe it’s because I just saw Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and I want that hour and a half of my life back, or maybe it’s just because I am tired of paying attention.

Regardless, it is up to me to make an effort to pay more attention. In the meanwhile, I think I might make a trip down to the Quad on my lunch break, just to see some people get Schwinned. Who’s coming with me?

Related Articles