November 19, 2005
Bicycles and Pedestrians
I got to experience something very interesting and fun again today as I was riding my bike to the bike shop. I pulled up to a crosswalk at a red light and a man was walking by in front of me. He turned and looked at me and I said, "Good morning!" He was genuinely startled, then then he managed a head nod before turning and walking faster. I guess he wasn't used to having traffic talk to him. I don't know. We were the only two people around and the streets were pretty quiet. Maybe he was lost in his thoughts when I spoke to him. I sometimes forget when I'm on a bike that I do have a voice and can speak to people. Have you ever only nodded or felt speachless when someone talks to you while you are on your bike? How about in the skyway? In skyways people go out of their way to avoid eye contact or make conversation. Anyway, I think there is something very nice about bicycle riders and pedestrians talking. It's a very humane way to live. It's not isolated or shut off from the outside world and each other. It's very close and personal.
It's a new, brave way to live. I like it. And just saying 'hello' out loud is a step in that direction.
I always try to say hello when I encounter pedestrians or other cyclists within earshot. I find that many people seem quite happy to hear a friendly greeting. But some seem frightened by the gesture. My opinion is that many of our society's problems would disappear if we all had to look each other in the eye and say hello more often.
Posted by: Jim at November 19, 2005 9:05 PM
Yeah, that's it. The more I ride my bike everywhere the more I realize how isolated I've been in the past. I ride busses also, and that's very good too, but in a crowd people tend to shut out other people too. Anyway, there is a lot of truth to the idea that problems would diappear if we all had to look each other in the eye and say hello. That's a very personal and friendly gesture.
It's so wierd that my boss doesn't even come into our area and say good morning to his employees. And we can see the kinds of problems he is having.
Hey, speaking of hello, I had the honor of meeting KM on Wednesday night. I bought one if his bike racks to hang up my bike. It's a very nice product and well-built. It was nice to see another blogger in person. I told him about our epic ride together and it brought back some great memories!
Posted by: John at November 19, 2005 9:23 PM
I sometimes say hello or good morning to other cyclists. I really like that small social aspect.
Overall, I think there is a good sociological justification for biking and mass transit. One has a much greater civic sense when you can talk to the people traveling with or around you. Jim is right on: just saying hello to more strangers would change society for the better.
Posted by: Dan at November 20, 2005 7:18 PM
This is one of the best threads I've had on this blog. I believe that sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer. When we have a choice between the complex answer and the simple answer... There are so many simple ways we can change the world, at least the world around us. Even just smiling at people first. Thanks for the great comments Jim and Dan!
Posted by: John at November 20, 2005 8:46 PM