A teachable moment on Carling Avenue

So I had a bit of an incident today.

I was walking along Carling towards Churchill. I was on the northwest corner waiting for the light to change so I could cross Churchill. Westbound Carling had the light, including an advance left turn, so I couldn’t cross. No biggie.

There were a few cars to my left, lined up at the red on Churchill, all wanting to turn right onto Carling. A few did, mostly at a reasonable speed. Again, no biggie.

Then a young guy in an SUV was at the stop line. He stopped and didn’t turn. There was an impatient old man behind him. It was a small car, and I don’t know if the old man could see what was going on at the intersection. The advance left had ended.

Just as my walk signal came on, the old man honked aggressively at the young guy to try to get him to turn. The young guy, clearly influenced by the d-bag behind him started to go, entering the crosswalk.

I exclaimed. (I just said, “whoa.” There was no swearing, or anything.)

The young guy, perhaps hearing me or perhaps seeing the walk signal…or maybe seeing the eastbound cars that now had a green, stopped abruptly and looked duly chastened. It was clear that he knew he shouldn’t have done it and was quite regretful.

He gave me a wave, and I gave him a re-assuring wave back. I know he didn’t want endanger me. I pointed accusatorily at the old man–the negligent, self-absorbed driver who started all this.

There are three lessons here:

  1. Don’t be that old man. Don’t be a jerk when you’re driving. You’re not entitled to go anywhere you want at the exact second you want to. You’re impatience and self-regard are not more important the than safety of others. You’re just not that special.
  2. I know it’s hard, but when you’re driving, you can’t let yourself be pressured into things by the bullies around you. You have to control what you’re doing with your vehicle. It doesn’t matter if someone’s honking at you, look, assess and drive only if it’s safe. Yes, it’s really tough when someone’s being a jerk, but you have to do it. Otherwise you could seriously hurt or kill someone.
  3. We need to get rid of right turns on reds. We’re teaching drivers that they’re allowed to do whatever they want, that red lights don’t always mean red lights. As a result, they just want to go, safety, right-of-way, the very existence of others be damned. Sometimes, drivers will just have to wait their turn.

That’s it. Three simple lessons. If we could just embrace them, our streets would be a lot safer and a lot more pleasant.

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