Traffic Empathy, Pete Schwartz

I’m angry when my rights are violated as a bicyclist. There are about 2 bicycle deaths annually in SLO. Kennedy Love was my student. My wife spent a week in the ICU after being mashed by a mini van. I claim the moral high ground, although I’m far from perfect myself. When a truck failed to yield the right of way to me on the bicycle boulevard, I regarded it as a sector of society that I want to change and reported it. How might this truck driver feel, and what might I learn from empathizing? Likely they were in a hurry (although they still had to stop at the red light… or maybe they didn’t want to stop a second time at the stop sign thereby burning additional petroleum) and recognized that I was able to stop and would stop rather than collide with them. I’m not willing to believe that they didn’t see me (note the blinking of my light in the video). No one is hurt, and likely they feel that they can get away with it. What is the bicyclist going to do about it? I can identify with this, and I’ve been in this position many times, where I disregarded someone because I could. I remember as a high school junior, I was in the library with my friends and bet I could jump over a table. As I got ready, the librarian told me I better not. But I did (I cleared!) and my friends had a laugh. I likely even apologized to the librarian. I dismissed her authority and got a way with it… well, until the next morning when I got detention. I knew all the administrators because I was in student council. I went down to explain that it was in good fun. But it turns out that’s not the way they felt. It was a learning experience for me, which it wouldn’t have been if they’d cut me some slack. I imagine that the truck driver found it to be no big deal, and maybe I shouldn’t make it one. But I sent the link to the police.

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