There’s no escaping psychology
And since the first human-like creature used the first tool there’s been no escaping the fact that our tools change us. Not just help us. Change us.
So I was interested to read What Drivers Really Thing About Bikers: The History And Psychology of Sharing the Road in Good.
1. The article if full of troubling moments, e.g. citing safety data without the proper caveats.
2. The tool we call the bicycle also contributes to a particular psychology that doesn’t mix well with the motorist psychology mentioned in the article. For example, check out this video:
That’s way cool
It’s also an excellent illustration of the psychology of bicycling. On a bicycle we are encouraged to think of the entire planet is a surface for us to ride on without hindrance or rules. Stop signs? Too much trouble. Parking lots? Short cuts. Sidewalks? Hey man, like, paved!
I think we need to bring the psychology of our own two feet more specifically to bear on our use of the public commons we call streets. Our feet have been with us since the beginning and, therefore, carry the evolutionary programming that dictates a particular kind of relationship with the environment and our fellow travelers.
When we move at speeds beyond what we can walk, we seem to lose ourselves in ourselves and lose a concept of others as fellow travelers who deserve our care and attention.
UPDATE: I saw aspect of the psychology of motoring just a few minutes ago while coming home from the store pulling a trailer full of groceries (at no time was I in danger). All of this tooks place in less than 100 yards: I was traveling south on Pickwick (a wide residential street). Up ahead was a car and a lawn-care truck parked on opposite sides of the street. My best action was to take the middle and split the vehicles. As I was doing so, a motorist approached from behind at a bit over the 25-mph speed limit (estimated 30 mph compared to my 12 mph). I pulled into a more normal lane position after I split the cars. The motorist, now hot on my tail, squeezes by me, leaving just a few feet to spare. The motorist “had” to do so (the quote marks do not indicate irony) because there was a small traffic island just ahead with a speed limit sign — a traffic calming device. After pulling quickly back to the right — still traveling an estimated 30 mph — the motorist proceeds to turn into a driveway just about 30 yards farther on. In other words, this motorist was seconds away from his/her destination but could not be bothered to follow me, which would have been the safest and most caring, courteous choice.