Posted by: dolan | February 18, 2007

Make Eye Contact, Stay Alive

We live in a very pedestrian friendly neighborhood of a very dense city, so I realize this won’t apply to everyone. As a cyclist, driver, and a pedestrian, I’m constantly amazed by how much other cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians don’t pay attention to what’s going on around them.

Everyone, make eye contact with one another. There’s no way you have any idea what the other person is planning to do unless you perform this one, simple task.

Pedestrians, I can’t tell you how many times I see people blindly walking into the intersection without giving a second glance at the oncoming car. Half the time you’re talking on a cell phone, which makes matters worse, or wearing dark clothing at night. If you want to stay alive, make sure the driver sees you. This goes for you too, cyclist. Make eye contact with the driver so he knows you’re there. And driver, you make eye contact with everyone, including other drivers. Finally, pedestrians, sometimes it’s better to wait half a second and let the driver go through the intersection instead of stranding them between two packed crosswalks.

Cyclists, stop running stop signs and intersections. I see it all the time. I understand the desire to conserve energy as much as anyone (trust me on this as I’ve raced everything except track and I’ve done quite a few long distance tours), but it’s dangerous, and by creating your own rules you’re simply pissing off drivers who will take that aggression out on you.

Drivers, give other people the benefit of the doubt. For god sakes, stop at crosswalks when people are crossing instead of swerving around them. Pull over for emergency vehicles. Please don’t double park, and check if cyclists are coming when you open your door.

We can all get along in this city, but it takes a bit of acknowledgement of others’ existence and common courtesy. This all begins with eye contact.

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