Speed Matters

Sounds like New York City gets it.  The following stats were especially eye opening:

…a pedestrian hit by a car going 40 m.p.h. had only a 30 percent chance to survive. Those struck by a car at 30 m.p.h., she said, survive 80 percent of the time. At 20 m.p.h., the figure climbs to about 95 percent.

Drive?  Then you, too, can kill.

Don’t wait until you hit someone to accept that (a) going slower increases the time you have to see other road users and to process what you see and (b) slowing reduces the danger you present to other road users if you don’t see them.  Few things in life are that sure and that easy.

Do you really need to get where you are going a few minutes early?  Is my life less important than you getting to work on time?   It was roughly noon and sunny both times I was hit.  In both incidents the motorists said they didn’t see me, but because they were going well under 20 (they were both starting from a stop just before they hit me), I didn’t suffer as much as a bruise.  OK, one of the two times I was on a motorbike and was wearing a full protective suit with armor covering my back, elbows, knees and shoulders and a full face helmet, but I was going 30 and could have been messed up if the driver was going faster.  The second incident was on my bike, and I had just a helmet, shorts and a tee shirt.  Still, not a bruise.

Last weekend Lacey and I pedaled downtown for burritos.  In the short ride, we had two close passes by vehicles exceeding the 30 mph speed limit.  The first was a cab.  I was angry but held it in.  The second was a big SUV.  I screamed something–Hey!, I think.  He stopped at the next light.  I stopped well behind him.  He asked out his window what he had done.  I said he passed too close.  He said sorry and sounded sincere.  I said sorry, too (I hadn’t done anything wrong and wasn’t sorry in the moment for using my mouth as a horn, but I am programmed to apologize).  That was about the best outcome one could hope for.

One reasonable exchange shouldn’t make the rule.  More often than not these on-road education sessions go nowhere or worse.  Some people are hard to reach.  These may be the folks who drink and drive, drive and text, speed through construction sites and don’t change lanes to give room to officers who’ve pulled someone over.  All illegal and the laws are highly publicized, but the laws are too often ignored and tickets are rarely issued.   Seems like murderers will sooner get the death penalty than a driver’s license will be suspended.  I have given up trying to understand it.  Instead, I will do my best to not make things worse.  Not convert a kind motorist into an angry one.  I will ride predictably and within the law.  I will take the lane only as long as I need it to be safe.  When I am slighted I will try to pretend I am in a car bubble and say not a thing.  Just move on.  I am learning that the only person I can hope to control is me so that’s where I will direct my energies.

It isn’t easy, though.  Anger accretes.  In the case of the two close passes on our burrito run, there was zero traffic in the oncoming lane–we were on a complete ghost road–such that the close passers had no reason to pass within three feet of Lacey and I.  The two drivers opted to buzz us as they passed.  That bugs me more than anything.  When I want to be really upset (and truly I never do),  I remember that all close passes are optional and illegal.  Passers can and should, are required by law, to always wait to pass until the pass can be executed with at least three feet of space.  Why not more than three feet, just to be safe?    These things that go through my head after most every close pass.  The second close pass in a couple of blocks on an empty road can be just too much.  I have more work to do.

That’s enough of that.


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