Earlier today, I found myself riding west on Dayton Street in Madison. Pedestrians were crossing Dayton at Dayton & Frances (near the Kohl Center – the arena where the UW-Madison basketball and hockey teams play) and traffic was (remarkably) stopped for them. I pulled up to the intersection just in time to hear the following through an open window from the back seat of a car full of young males:”This is bullshit! We have a car for Christ’s sake!”There was then some wild gesticulation at the pedestrians peacefully crossing the street as the young males waited.
I was hungry and on my way to get calories. It seemed like a shouting match was the likely result such an action, so I resisted the urge to explain that while they had a car, they lacked common courtesy, common sense, and knowledge of traffic laws beyond “Red light: Stop. Green light: Go!”.
Anyone who wonders why some people don’t feel safe walking or biking might look to this young man’s comment for possible inspiration. Clearly, there is a reasonably large segment of our population that believes driving a four wheeled vehicle makes right. Those behind the wheel can do no wrong while those of us with just two wheels or feet must look out because we don’t have cars and that makes us stupid, liable, targets, dead, or some combination of the above.
If you see a black Pontiac Grand Am inhabited by four young males cruising around the streets of Madison, don’t count on them to stop for you.
They have a car, after all.