Does getting behind the wheel change our psychology?
Loved this article, I would say as someone who does own a house in the suburbs something I do enjoy is seeing is that there are some people who do walk through the neighborhood. I especially like seeing the local kids ride their bikes around. Close proximity to a public park (walkable by sidewalks even!) seems to help this occur more often although I'd feel better if my subdivision paid to have speed bumps put down.
Loved this piece, and it immediately brings to mind LM Sacasas' work on asking deep questions about technology (and accepting that the answers are often uncomfortable, and we should probably take notes of that):
In particular, ones I find often not sufficiently considered in our American context, at least:
* What are the potential harms to myself, others, or the world that might result from my use of this technology?
* Upon what systems, technical or human, does my use of this technology depend? Are these systems just?
* What would the world be like if everyone used this technology exactly as I use it?
* What risks will my use of this technology entail for others? Have they consented?
* Can the consequences of my use of this technology be undone? Can I live with those consequences?
* Does my use of this technology make it easier to live as if I had no responsibilities toward my neighbor?
* Can I be held responsible for the actions which this technology empowers? Would I feel better if I couldn’t?
There are two sayings in the cycling community: 1. There are two kinds of bike riders, those who have been hit by cars and those who will be hit by cars; and 2. If you want to commit the perfect murder, run someone over with a car and drag a bike under them.
While there are some instances of malicious behavior of drivers against people on bikes, I think largely it is not intentional. At best, it is people making bad choices (passing on a blind hill or curve) or trying to squeeze through where they can't really fit and it puts them in a situation where there is no good outcome (the bike rider usually loses). At worst, it's someone who is being aggressive and intimidating without any intention of hurting someone. However, in both situations people just don't think about the consequences of those actions and to a large extent I believe it is because they have never ridden a bike in any similar situation. Most reasonable people would understand how to treat people on bike respectfully, if they had walked (ridden?) a mile in the other shoes. I think a lot of it has to do with the pathological need of drivers to always pass a bike rider. Not sure why this is, impatience or the impending feeling of being held up. Unfortunately, that feeling is outsized far beyond the actual effect, for example being delayed 30 seconds to wait for a place to pass or change lanes etc.
I'm reading this and thinking that it'd be great if you would read Chuck Mahron's book on traffic, and then you caught that interception and ran it into the end zone. Glad you went there! I heartily agree that his take on our car violence is best explained by road design. Our "stroads" are not designed first and foremost for human safety but for speed, efficiency, and costs (!). It's truly disheartening to me that so many of us will sit at red lights for hours (complaining), but we'd balk at the notion of replacing red lights with stop signs despite how it's proven that they create much less irritation, deaths, and inefficiencies. Slower is safer. But then I rattle my head and remind myself that there are also some heartening changes being made even in my city of Lancaster, PA. Thanks, Addison!
This was a really great read! You touch on the dangers of driving, but there are so many other negatives as well: pollution, cost, effect on the built environment, etc. While I doubt we'll ever fully give up cars, reading this makes me wonder if we should be considering it.
It's hard to imagine that world, but I recently wrote about how we never thought smoking rates would decline until a combination of regulation, education, and changing public perception suddenly made smoking rates plummet: https://heathracela.substack.com/p/can-we-solve-this
Could the same happen with cars in a few generations? Reading this makes me think it must.