Common Courtesy - An Endangered Species

What's up with motorists suddenly (or not so suddenly) ignoring pedestrians, crosswalks, and eschewing common courtesy?  I say "not so suddenly" as I've been seeing this lack of motoring etiquette for some time.  But lately it seems like it's moved on to another level.

I'm not even talking about the common, combative, vitriol laden relationship between cyclists and motorists.  That's a whole other post in itself.   I will say, after just coming into the house today from a Saturday AM ride, that it was event free.  And even with the mid-morning rush of a Saturday, with people heading to little league soccer, Home Depot, or wherever, it really wasn't too bad of a ride.

But when I'm running, or even walking (to the train station to commute to work, for example, which is only a mile away from our home), the idea of motorists actually stopping at a stop sign, yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk, or actually being aware of ones surroundings, seems like too much to ask lately.  Case(s) in point:

  • While walking to the train one recent morning, I approached a corner where cars were waiting to turn right - I would have been approaching them from their right.  I made eye contact with the elderly woman in the lead car, and proceeded to cross.  She decided that it was more important to take advantage of the gap in traffic and - had I not jumped clear - her left front quarter panel would have clipped my leg.  Her dismissive wave of her hand was icing on the cake.
  • During a typical morning run, I was coming up to a gas station where a car (I heard him before I saw him) came roaring up to the exit drive.  Thankfully I heard him coming and was able to stop short, because the dude behind the wheel never once looked in my direction and when I yelled a sarcastic "thank you", as I stood blocked by his car in the middle of the sidewalk, I was greeted with his middle finger.
  • Walking home from the train station is just as bad as walking to it.  While crossing at a corner a car, thoughtfully, stopped and motioned for me to cross.  Giving a nice wave I proceeded to do so.  However, the car behind the nice young lady thought that this was a ridiculous situation and proceed to lay on his horn.  When I was clear, and the cars were rolling, he yelled out his window "get the fuck out of the way".

Now, as I said, this isn't the animosity that I see at times when I'm out on my bike on training rides.  That again provides enough ammunition for a whole other post (or three).  And I will say that there are "good cyclists" and "bad cyclists"....just as there are good drivers and bad drivers.  But when did the old saying "pedestrians have the right of way" go by the way-side?  Are people in that big a hurry that waiting for 10 seconds for someone to cross a street is such an inconvenience?

My wife and I have a saying that we commonly say at least twice on the occasion that we're out for a ride together.  It's not unusual for a car to tearing by us at a ridonkulous rate of speed - or for a car to ignore a stop sign, etc.  We usually joke that "...there better be someone giving birth in the back seat of that car..." as there's really no other reason to be so obnoxiously exceeding the speed limit in a residential area.  JL has also noticed this now more common phenomenon of motorists beginning to despise pedestrians.

And it really wasn't like this even 2 to 3 years ago.  It's been just recently (the past 12 months perhaps) that this behavior has been increasing to become more commonplace.  Even our early morning rides and runs (500a start time) now have risks - given by the example of the idiot coming out of the gas station.  It used to be that one could run down the middle of the road at that time of day and not encounter a car for miles.  Now, everyone is out earlier, in a bigger hurry, and patience is a rare commodity.

The encounters that I listed above should not be considered a complete list of transgressions by any means.  I could go on and on.  I just don't understand why common courtesy has been given up in lieu of trying to beat the rush at Starbucks on the way to work.