- Published: Wednesday, 14 September 2016 16:58
- Written by Administrator
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At first glance and with stories we read online, in newspapers, and from anecdotes we hear from friends and colleagues, we can somehow see how animosity has established itself between bicyclists and drivers who have to share the road on a daily basis. As we have said in another post, there also seem to be some kind of miscommunication going on, mainly because of how each one experiences being on the road we all share.
Animosity reeks of being animals in the truest sense of the word. It’s worse than hatred because animosity is rooted in one’s behavior. Hatred can be learned and unlearned but animosity is there as part of one’s nature. In the case of our glimpse into the biker-driver relationship, it would seem that there is more than an instant dislike when a driver sees a bicyclist weaving in and out of traffic, filtering himself between the small spaces left by cars, trucks and jeepneys, and quickly proceeding to overtake them effortlessly. In traffic, the bicycle becomes the unwitting fastest mode of transportation, which adds a dimension to this animosity. Drivers, especially those who have to spend almost all of their working hours on the road are the ones who are quick to judge that bicyclists are the worst offenders when it comes to traffic violations.
At least 26 bicycle riders and a pedestrian have been recorded killed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in various bicycle related road accidents from January to December last year (2015).
The MMDA also recorded at least 932 persons injured in bicycle-related road accidents in the given period with March and May posting the highest numbers at 88 injured each.
According to the MMDA, there were at least three non-fatal injuries from bicycle-related road accidents reported per day during the covered period. Of those reported injured, 949 were the ones driving the bicycle, 128 were passengers while 44 were pedestrians.
Drivers’ perception of bicyclists as habitual traffic rules violators make the situation worst because even as they see only one biker violate traffic laws, they immediately generalize that all bikers must be the same. While this is definitely not true, the perception remains and is bolstered by the fact that, as bicycling is becoming more popular these days, there are now more inexperienced bikers spending more time on the road. And unfortunately they are the most vulnerable to accidents and are more likely to commit inadvertent violations because of their inexperience.
From the bicyclists’ point of view on the other hand, it is easy to understand why bikers generally and readily conclude that drivers simply don’t care and would not be beyond intentionally cutting in front of them just to get ahead. In fact, most accidents involving bicyclists are often due to drivers’ not seeing the bicyclist in time in order to avoid them. If you ask why they didn’t see the bicyclist, their ready-made answer would almost always be because “the biker just appeared out of nowhere!” and saying that “we have the right of way anyway.” To a biker, this certainly means a lack of awareness and alertness on the part of the driver or even lack of respect to fellow road users.
Clearly, there exist unacceptable behavior on both parties. How can we overcome this mutual distrust and a judgmental attitude that causes both bikers and drivers to act in a manner that worsens the current traffic situation in the country? The animosity we posited earlier is rising because of bikers and drivers who are inconsiderate and mean to each other. There is definitely a need to accept and tolerate others who are causing us “delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Let us then base our formula for decoding this relationship on these preceding ideas.
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The irony is that no one wants to be delayed on their way to wherever they are going, yet we are causing others and ourselves to be delayed when we try to insist on getting our way first even to the point of displacing others in the line. Drivers do this by swerving and cutting in front of others who have been following the line for so long. The car in front is displaced and has to stop when a driver insists on cutting in front and this causes the other cars behind to stop too, thus producing a longer delay. We all seem to lose our civility on the road when faced with high volume vehicular traffic.
It is surprising to note that everybody seems to be in a hurry when stuck in traffic and yet no driver or biker (when faced with a similar situation) seems willing to give an inch so that we could all move together smoothly, whether in the same direction or the opposite. No one wants to cause trouble but we initiate events that explode into trouble when we fail to consider that the others might be experiencing something worse than us. We do want to avoid suffering at all cost but we still prefer to be mean to others than show them our weakness.
|It doesn’t matter whether you are a biker or driver, a boss at work or the lowest of the menial workers. What matters is that being human on the road means being patient and kind...two very human but divinely admonished traits..|
Patience and Kindness
What we have actually mentioned above are the opposites of two simple, very human but divinely admonished traits: being kind and being patient. What is being kind but being considerate and nice to others; what is being patient but not being angry or upset when faced with delay, trouble or suffering. If we look at the daily traffic situation we experience, we would immediately realize that the road where we are is a vast sea of opportunity to become patient and kind to others who share the same paved or unpaved, flooded or not flooded road with us. At the same time however, it is the very same situation and place where we find impatient and unkind drivers and bikers who are just as easily offended as they can easily offend at the same breath. Can’t we see the vicious cycle in this?
What Begets Patience and Kindness?
The answer seems to be quite simple but in reality is one of the most difficult to put into practice. It simply means do what you want others to do unto you but who does this? It seems that animosity has gotten the best of us when it comes to a real world demand to become charitable on the road. It’s the animal instinct of self-preservation that pervades our thoughts and action and not the noble thought of putting others first in our menu of activities for the day. Our minds might be filled with good intentions as we go out the door in the morning but, inexplicably, these good intentions lose their high moral grounds as we go through every feet by agonizing feet on the road to our destination. They are replaced by thoughts of grinding the other road users under our wheels or just pushing ahead, plowing through the vehicles ahead of us, if ever that’s possible.
For those who are accustomed to getting their way in the world where they are the boss, having to give way to lesser beings on the road may be a grating experience. This is a great challenge to such people but this could also be their redemption as they try to go above the animosity that reigns on the road. And as far as being human is concerned, being patient and kind is the anti-dote to that animosity. It doesn’t matter whether you are a biker or driver, a boss at work or the lowest of the menial workers. What matters is that being human on the road means being patient and kind.
A Hard Challenge to Accept
It is a humbling experience to share something that is regarded as an almost impossible challenge. But can we be patient and kind, even for just one moment - today, while we are on our way to work, or on our way back home? Be it on our bike or on our car, would it be an impossible task to for once, we let the biker or car trying to overtake us do so without getting upset or angry?
Please let share your thoughts and reactions on the comments below so we can know how, as bikers and drivers, we contribute to making our road sharing a pleasant experience.