It surprises me when I see a car parked on a sidewalk or pedestrians having a conversation in the street or bike lane. Why is it so hard for some people to understand that there are areas built specifically for their use and obviously for their safety?
It’s easy enough to sympathize with people getting caught up in the moment and understand how they can forget about those things, but there is also a selfish aspect to it centered around what I believe is a combination of entitlement, laziness and ‘a savings of time.’
The ‘saving of time’ is the part where it is just more convenient to jay walk to your destination rather than walk the extra 30 feet to a cross walk, of course saving the extra 60 seconds, but if those people who consistently do this thought for a moment (which might be a better use of their time) they’d understand that the time is negligible and the potential harm they’re putting themselves in and others certainly isn’t worth even the perceived notion that it is safe.
Putting others in danger? Yes, if a car has to swerve because someone is jay walking or riding a bicycle dangerously that car could certainly become out of control and wreck into other people and/or property. It happens all the time in NYC where a taxi lands on a sidewalk, with most certainty that the person who caused the event scurrying out of the scene leaving the driver to explain by themselves what happened.
So why is it so hard for some people to understand this basic notion? It is obvious that most people take care of themselves and watch out for others, while a smaller percentage of people wander around without regard. Their reckless behavior always a threat, the bicyclist riding down the street the wrong way, a father unloading his children on the street side of his vehicle, a mother riding her bicycle with two 3 year old children hanging on for their little lives and cruising through red lights… the examples are everywhere to be witnessed, some minor and some frightening.
Could the reason be that some people are less empathetic for others, and thus perhaps focused on their own needs so much that they basically become blind to what’s right?
Let us be reminded by Dr. Phil who addresses the issue:
In her own words she doesn’t understand her own compulsion to do what she does, that she becomes anxious if she doesn’t behave the way she is. And that is the real challenge, getting through to people. The only way that can happen is to approach them when they are young, to build the foundation for future behavior, so that all people will have the tools to act appropriately. I have no doubt that unnecessary accidents would drop drastically if we incorporate a cirriculum into our schools at an early age as part of the tools our children need to live a positive and healthy life. It is a social world, and those living without those tools to interact in a healthy way are being blocked by the reactions of those around them. Everyone needs to know the same set basic rules and understand that when they break the rules they are initiating the breaking of rules by others who witness their behavior. Our community as one, lest we desire the horror of accidents as a way to enliven our experience on earth.
Here is a small sample of the positive that has grown out of my effort: A mother with 3 children used to double park in front of the school to let her children out. After seeing my parking handout she started parking two blocks away and walking her children to school. She said to me “I really love having the bit of exercise, being outside and having a chance to be with my children for a little bit before school (undistracted by driving no doubt).” She smiles and waves to me whenever we cross paths and I’m of course delighted that I’ve had a positive impact on her life. And to her credit it takes a strong person to change a long term habit towards something positive, that involves commitment, time and effort. In the end I didn’t do anything, she’s the one that took control of her life and is setting a positive example for her children.