Tuesday, October 16, 2012
How to avoid the “dance of death” between bikes and pedestrians
Something needs to change.
DENTON A monstrous, half-metal, half-flesh beast approaches at inhuman speeds while making various clicking and spinning sounds. Immediately, a primal sense of fear is felt in the pedestrian. He or she has no idea what to do, and the reaction is to jump out of the way of this danger.
Jump back five seconds. The cyclist sees an approaching pedestrian on his or her left side, while the cyclist is riding on the right side like they should. In order to avoid a collision – something anyone with common sense would want – the cyclist will remain on course, much like a car on a quiet two-lane country road.
Now, these two stories are synchronous. Fear of pain is very strong in both the pedestrian and the cyclist. Nonetheless, the pedestrian will invariably make the worst possible split-second decision by jumping into the path of this approaching half-metal, half-flesh beast. This requires the cyclist to make a course correction by moving to the left side of the sidewalk.
The human brain is very fast, but apparently not as fast as a bicycle. At this point, the pedestrian, after realizing their previous mistake of moving into oncoming traffic, will once again make the mistake of moving into the path of the cyclist.
As the pedestrian and the cyclist perform this exponentially faster dance of death, like two colliding galaxies twirling around one another into oblivion, fate pushes one or the other out of the way at just the right moment. Otherwise, the outcome desired by neither individual will happen: pain.
This is an all too common occurrence on the University of North Texas campus, and I would like to offer several remedies.
Perhaps – and this may sound crazy – the two could stay on their respective sides of the sidewalk. This, however, is not a sufficient remedy to treat the fear of the average pedestrian.
Maybe those on foot could instead stand absolutely still. This tactic, as we were all taught, is the best way to avoid the tyrant lizard king Tyrannosaurus Rex, so why wouldn’t it work against the half-metal half-flesh beast?
In any case, something needs to change. We cannot live in fear of anything, let alone cyclists! If you are a pedestrian, don’t be afraid of approaching bicycles. If you are a cyclist, do not ride too fast – or on the wrong side of the sidewalk.
If an accident or injury does occur, make sure to help one another. It would be best, though, to avoid these collisions altogether, by simply not being afraid.
Pegasus News Content partner - North Texas Daily
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