View Full Version : Communication and Awareness.

10-31-2007, 08:17 AM
My friend White Lightning and I were discussing bike safety last night, and a common problem that came up was the lack of communication between cyclists and motor vehicle operators. After a near miss, we cyclists want to tell that driver, "Hey, just so you know, I almost died back there." Drivers, possibly expecting hostility, get pretty defensive when cyclists actually speak to them. (They're used to hand gestures behind shut windows, after all.) Often, though, we just want the person to be aware, not listen to him/her repeat the defensive motorist mantra, "You know, I ride a bike too." We decided that we wished there was a way to actually communicate how we felt about near accident situations to drivers, face to face.

As a periodic motor vehicle operator, I do everything I can to maintain roadway safety. I'm sure, though, that there are times when a cyclist was made uncomfortable by my vehicle. (Statistically, perfection is impossible.) But I'd like to know if and when these happen so that I can become a more safe and more aware driver. Here's my idea.

Cyclists are constantly going unnoticed, almost getting hit, and sometimes colliding with significantly larger vehicles. In these near miss situations, I propose that the cyclist can report the time, location, license plate number, and vehicle description to some government-affiliated body. (People generally respond better to the Law, after all.) The owner of the vehicle would get some kind of citation, complete with a small fine. Ten bucks would probably do it. It would be treated like any other traffic violation (almost killing someone is against the law, right?)--not paying it would go on one's record and such. But people can opt to go to a mediation date, which would waive the fine, if they feel they're being wrongly accused or they just want to understand the accusation better. I say "mediation date" because it wouldn't be like a court case, per se. It would be an opportunity for the cyclist to communicate, in a mediated setting, what happened, how it made him or her feel, and how the driver can be more aware in the future. I think this would be a productive means of increasing communication and awareness.

It's just an idea, but I'd love to hear people's thoughts on the real-life potential of this kind of program.