Comment 32491

By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted July 27, 2009 at 12:49:08

I would like to see this topic approached in the inverse more often. Not as more density and mixed use, wider sidewalks, better transit etc, because those things are easy to support in theory but difficult to implement in infrastructure.

And even convincing more people to walk and cycle will max out quickly because there are only so many tough people. Because kids, elderly, disabled, and the non-confident will avoid 'dangerous' roads.

What makes roads dangerous? The way in which people drive on them.

The thing that prevents forward movement more than anything else is the reluctance to go after the problem of aggressive, selfish driving. This is easy to do, but it seems to grind against all kinds of social norms so most people are really scared to provide any feedback to these self-centered drivers.

People who often walk and cycle tend to drive cars at a safe speed and with attention and control that keeps other pedestrians and cyclists as safe as the road design will allow. i.e. Drive as if those are your own kids on the sidewalk. I'd say this describes 25% of drivers.

Or, you could drive as if the world revolves around you - as fast as you can get away with, ignore pedestrians, curse cyclists, never signal, yak on cell phones, treat stop signs as fast yields (to cars, not pedestrians), and have no concept of staying in your lane while making a turn. This describes another 25% of drivers, and the other half is in between.

In terms of getting where you need to go the time difference between these driving styles is minimal in the city. But the consequences are way different.

When I moved to Hamilton 7 years ago, the police would often have the radar out on Aberdeen and Longwood. I haven't seen them once in the last 3 years. Since the cops are increasingly useless in stopping aggressive drivers, the public has to engage in changing this.

I don't mean pedestrian rage. DOn't ever get emotional, but whenever you see some shitty driving, let the driver know with some quick word or gesture (e.g. thumbs down is a non threatening one) that what they're doing is irresponsible. Don't escalate, when the driver sees your gesture, stop, the job is done, don't rub it in.

But please do it to improve in the livability of this city. You have the guts, trust yourself. And tell your friends.

If I'm the only one who does this, not much will change. If a driver sees several independent people mocking their bad driving often enough, they will change their behaviour.

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