Strange things done in the urban jungle
By Steve Wallace, Times Colonist, May 11, 2012
Cyclists should not expect to be treated as pedestrians while riding – they must follow the rules of the road.
Sometimes I cannot believe what ridiculous behaviour I see when driving.
Last week, there was a man walking with his back to traffic on a very narrow city road. Vehicles were slowing considerably and having to weave around him.
He was carrying two large shopping bags. He was listening to a music player and oblivious to the dangers all around him.
Two vehicles could not possibly pass him in the confined space of the two traffic lanes provided. What made the whole situation more puzzling was the presence of a sidewalk on the other side of the roadway.
The pedestrian was risking his life not only by walking on the wrong side of the road, but by failing to use the sidewalk provided. Every school-age kid knows better.
I thought the man was only walking a short distance. I circled the block out of sheer curiosity. He was going a lot farther than a house-to-house visit and continued for two blocks when I last saw him. Why do seemingly ordinary people do ridiculously unsafe things? Your guess is as good as mine.
Later that day, I saw a man on a bicycle stopped at a crosswalk. He sat on his bike, frantically waving at cross traffic in an effort to get drivers to stop for him. He was on the street, seated on his bike, and would therefore be classified as a vehicle driver. No driver has the duty to stop for him in this situation.
All he needed to do was dismount, and then he would be treated as a pedestrian. Drivers should do the expected and follow the obvious rules of the road.
Cyclists can, indeed, have it both ways. They can become pedestrians at any juncture and proceed as cyclists at will, but they should not expect to be treated as pedestrians while riding.
The most curious driving move of the day was reserved for the guy who parked on the roundabout centre circle, got out of his car and tried to figure out the right-of-way rules governing the circular puzzle.
Other drivers were so distracted by him being in the traffic circle that they actually stopped and tried to explain the rudimentary rules of roundabout roulette to the seemingly stranded driver. I left the scene as an act of self-preservation.
I ended up at a gas station. A woman had run out of gas and had asked two men for help. She was actually on the lot and only a few metres from the pumps.
As the men pushed the car toward the gas pump, the woman was trying to turn the steering wheel so as to line the car up with the gas pump. Unfortunately, she did not have the strength to turn the steering wheel without the power steering engaged.
The gas attendant helped turn the steering wheel as he walked beside the vehicle. The woman did not know how to open the gas cap.
She was on her cellphone seeking information assistance from some unknown individual when the attendant told her she was not permitted to use the phone at the pumps. The car was a very expensive model, in the range of $150,000. People behind me wanted to fill up, so I was forced to move, despite my inquisitive nature.
As I gave driving lessons for the rest of the day, I saw a guy driving happily down the road with his seatbelt stuck out the bottom of his driver door, gas cap lid wide open and a very low rear tire. I stopped for the red light; he didn’t. I never saw him again.
I am not sure what causes these odd behaviours on weekends.
Have you had similar experiences?
Steve Wallace is the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School, operating on Vancouver Island and in the Central Interior of B.C. He is a former Western Canadian vice-president of the Driving School Association of the Americas and a certified B.C. teacher.