The Wrong Side of my Car

A blog about Auckland City, its streets, and culture shock

18 Oct 2015

Just a minimal bit of courtesy

Some things can be codified in traffic law, like yielding to pedestrians at a zebra crossing. But often, being nice to each other is all we need to resolve a lot of situations.

Sometimes I fantasize of punishing inconsiderate people. But that shouldn’t be needed. Please show just a minimal bit of courtesy from time to time.

If a bus in a bus stop is signalling right, please give way to that bus

That bus pulled aside as a courtesy to you in the first place, to let drivers behind following the bus pass while it is dwelling at the stop. You should return that courtesy when the bus wants to leave again.

Offenders will be banned from motorways, and they will be required to pull aside every 500 metres and wait for a gap in traffic to continue.

If a pedestrian is waiting in the middle of the street to cross the other half, please stop and let him cross

I mean, come on. How pleasant do you think it is on the centre line? Pedestrians have just as much right to a smooth journey as you.

Offenders will be sentenced to walking down the centre line of Dominion Road.

Please don’t stick to the bumper, flash your high beams, or beep your horn at drivers following previous guidelines

Seriously, a lack of courtesy is one thing, but then, not tolerating that other people show some?

Offenders will be sentenced to going to work as follows:

Please watch the street around you

Please don’t text while driving. Don’t do your make-up. Pull over when you want to fiddle with your GPS (or let your passenger do that). And so on. Eyes on the street around you. Please.

Since you’re driving a 1000+ kg machine around, at least look where it’s going. This is the very absolutely bare minimum amount of courtesy you should show. Trying to not kill your fellow people. They too deserve to wake up another day.

Offenders will hand in their driving privilege.

So until now I have been talking about car drivers. They are the ones driving those heavy and fast machines through our streets, so they have the onus of being careful. But that doesn’t mean others are to be exempt from being considerate.

If you’re going to cross the street, please check if oncoming traffic has some space to stop safely

This only takes a split second. Usually you can just walk on this side for another couple of seconds. And wishing a bus or a truck can stop in less than a few metres doesn’t make it so.

Offenders will be sentenced to wearing a high-vis jacket and waving a pedestrian flag while walking on the street.

Oh, and in case you were thinking, politicians who think this should be the norm for pedestrians anyway, will receive the same sentence, except they should also do it at all times while working, especially during TV interviews.

Please don’t speed through pedestrian zones, footpaths, or a Barnes dance on your bicycle

On footpaths you have people entering and exiting shops. People who just finished crossing the street. People talking to each other. Looking at shops.

Please don’t harass them by speeding by.

Offenders will be sentenced to carrying their bicycle on their back.

There is also this related concept of…

Empathy

That means, think for a few seconds how that other guy feels. Those few seconds will often save you from coming across as a total ass. How would you feel if others treated you the same way as you’re treating him?

Please don’t tell a pedestrian he should walk to that traffic light 300 metres up the street to cross

What would you think if someone arbitrarily decided you have to drive up and down a block before driving where you want to go?

Offenders will be sentenced to walking 300 metres up and down the street every time they enter or exit their car.

Please don’t tell children to ride their bicycle on the street and not on the footpath

Yes, I know it’s the law. But the law thinks bicycles are just miniature cars. In many places, doing so is just too dangerous. And they’re kids, how fast are they going to ride?

Offenders will be sentenced to riding their bicycle along the length of Wairau Valley Road.

So, in conclusion:

Please be considerate. It makes everybody’s lives much easier and more pleasant. And maybe people will return that courtesy to you.

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