Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Perceptions and Prejudices

I witnessed a car accident this morning, while out on my bike.  I was not involved in the crash, but was present at the same intersection so immediately went over to see if everyone was ok, and to call 911.  As I was asking the drivers if they were hurt, another car came upon the scene, and slowed down just long enough for the driver not to query if everyone was ok, but to vent his spleen about how I, as a bicyclist should not be on the road.  Huh?   He sort of deflated and drove off muttering under his breath after I pleasantly said "I'm just calling 911 -- Thank you."  His response left me a little shaky.

What is wrong with people?  No "Is everyone all right?", or "Can I call for help?".  This driver hadn't even seen the accident, and decided to immediately target and blame the bicyclist, without showing any concern for the others on the road who might need help.

Of course, it can go both ways.  As I waited on the side of the road for the cops to show up (it was reasonable to wait, as I witnessed the whole thing and was the one to call it in), two ladies out for their morning walk stopped and started to go into full-blown "Oh, you poor thing, drivers are so inconsiderate to cyclists" mode until I repeatedly pointed out that I was just a witness waiting for the cops to show up. They then proceeded on their stroll, without even stopping to exchange words with the poor drivers who were still standing by their wrecked cars.

Why should the bystander perception and response vary so widely depending on your chosen mode of transport?  It shouldn't, darn it!

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