Us and Them
Or: How I Stopped Worrying, and Learned to Love Traffic!
As discussed in “Confessions of and Urban Cyclist”, our traffic flow issues could actually represent what’s wrong with our Society in general! So, by focusing on fixxing traffic issues, we could also trigger other inter-dependent solutions, and unleash a wave of positive Social and Ecological changes that would roll right across the board! Before leaning into this potential tipping point though, first let’s try to eliminate one of the main sources of stress caused by our growing traffic problems.
You see, as an Urban Cyclist, I seriously resent the simplistic Us & Them rhetoric that the Media and Politicians like to foist on ALL of us, in order to polarize traffic issues into ‘sides’ – mostly just to further the agenda’s of pandering politics, and partisan “journalists” as it would seem.
Whether it’s Motorists killing Pedestrians, or ‘Transit’ sidetracking funds needed for roadway upgrades, or Cyclists trying to hog the already congested roads, there’s no end to the ways people can be turned against each other in Traffic. This is obviously an artificial fabrication (manipulation?) that’s meant to segregate people’s needs, so that they can be more easily sold on ideas, and encouraged to adopt simplified personal positions on larger and more complex issues. It also strikes me as rather parasitic (of the Press and Politicians) to prey on the frustrations of Motorists, and the fears of Cyclists in order to win suburban votes, or offer a forum to vent their pent up aggravations about Transit failures. Or just to gain short-term credibility with the “Green” demographics.
So even though I distrust many politicians, and the bureaucratic tax-trough artists who surround them, I can still see the positive potential behind developing a common cause here, and applying civic and communicative processes of Politics and Public Relations to somehow alleviate our pervasive traffic issues. Not just because it will make our streets safer, friendlier, and cleaner. Not because the manner in which we address “Car Culture” will eventually also save our Ecosystem from certain doom at the hands of Petro-Chemical Giants. But because, I just want to be able to enjoy motoring out of town without being constantly astounded by the appalling driving habits of others. Which brings me to why I needed to stop hating traffic so much, before I became entirely disenfranchised with Humanity in general…
To me, motor vehicles aren’t just impressive pieces of aesthetically pleasing engineering. Sure, they offer us satisfaction through the enormous freedom to travel and expand our horizons, but they also serve to illustrate our human traits in how they get used, and therefore inadvertently exacerbate many of the flaws that make up the Human Condition as well.
Unfortunately, how we drive our cars can demonstrate our selfishness, our lapses of consciousness, our lacking presence of mind, our willful ignorance of rules and order, and worst of all, automobiles shield us from the outside world so well that they actually encourage self-centered behavior that is eventually disconnected from our sense of Reality and social responsibility around us…Or at the very least they can disconnect us from our basic sense of self-preservation, as we sit there in great comfort, peace and solitude, and a false sense of security. Let’s be perfectly clear though…These traits aren’t limited to Motorists, it’s just that most car designs (suspension, power assist driving, noise damping, stereos, etc) make it easier to disconnect ourselves from the realities of the hard, unforgiving pavement, and the bigger world around us.
Of course, there are also plenty of self-righteous Pedestrians who think nothing of stepping out into an intersection without a second thought for traffic flow, or lax Cyclists who flaunt their disregard for the Law on a regular basis. So let’s clarify that ‘bad traffic’ is everyone’s problem. It remains a challenge that we ALL have to address, if we ever expect to evolve past the dangerous effects of our current “Car Culture”, and the bigger social ills that these traffic issues exemplify so well.
The question is, do we accept traffic as just another source of stress, or do we figure out how to make the best of a bad thing. Since there’s obviously no end in sight to the traffic congestion that is expected to increase from 60-130% over the next decade (depending where you live), and with more cars getting onto the road everyday and few experienced and responsible drivers in this growing relative mix, what can we do to start making things better now…While we collectively grapple with the bigger social issues that create bad drivers in the first place?
My quickest suggestion for starting to solve traffic problems, could perhaps even help cure those ills of Society as well, is astoundingly straight-forward:
Make EYE CONTACT with the people around you !
This deceptively simplistic, and rather naive sounding solution is just an initial step of course. It’s alot more difficult to than you might think though…
So Click Here to learn how to CONNECT WITH OTHERS
( No…It’s not a dating site I promise)
If you’re curious about how I learned to love traffic…
Then Click on CONFESSIONS of and URBAN CYCLIST
I may have watched to many cartoons as a kid, but I’m starting to think that multi-modal Mass Transit holds the key to a truly sustainable Futuristic World !