Moving with Dignity in Traffic

Don’t take the bait.  Don’t let the bad behavior of others determine your own.  Restraint is the better part of dignity.  Don’t justify getting even.  Do not do unto others as they do unto you if it will cause harm.  –Donna Hicks, Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict

One of the hardest things is keeping our composure and conducting ourselves with dignity in the midst of thick traffic.  During busy times roads fill up with vehicles weighing thousands of pounds, moving at speeds unimaginable until about 150 years ago when trains emerged to help us leap across America.  And in the middle of it all there is the human factor.  Someone is driving an unmaintained car pumping out a devilish mist shrouding our breathing space in a dark, poisonous cloud, or someone is distracted, impatient, or uncooperative.  It is remarkable how well we do in persevering a peaceful atmosphere in spite of these humungous challenges.

Sansai Studios White Sands splendor

“Being vulnerable takes strength and others are touched when they see our openness.”
–(Hicks, Dignity, p. 104)
Riding my bicycle I have to work a little harder to be safer.  Being more vulnerable has been a tremendous advantage.  It has awakened in me the capacity to be empathetic to those with less power.  When I’m bicycling I especially look out for pedestrians and yield to their situation.  Riding on the multi use path is a perfect analogy to driving a car on the road.  Ideally I could ride as fast I wanted on the Bosque Trail but sometimes there is congestion, or people walking across the trail, or small children or beginning bicyclists that require me to slow down.  The thing I’ve realized is slow is the rule.  Sometimes we are taught that we must yield to speed, but that doesn’t create a safe environment.  Slow is the rule.  If someone is going slower or people are in the vicinity we have to slow down accordingly.  Pressure’s off, let dignity be our guide.

Sansai Studios close up paintbrush

“Don’t blame and shame others to deflect your own guilt.  Control the urge to defend  yourself by making others look bad.”  (Hicks, Dignity, p. 164)

When I walked into commercial driving school the first lesson I got was from Jim, a veteran of truck driving who had driven over a million miles.  He said “you are heavier than anyone else on the road,  and you could really hurt someone.  Therefore it is your responsibility to take good care of everyone.”  That message embedded in my driving soul, and has stayed with me ever since.  It’s a message of proactive safety, that we are looking out for one another.  I think this is key.  So what can you do to help make our streets even more dignified.  Join the National Complete Streets Coalition.  They work to make sure we design streets, and refurbish our existing ones, so that all transportation modes are included.  People come first.  And when we see a street that doesn’t seem to adequately encourage and dignify walking and bicycling, or include the elderly, young, or differently abled, we have to work harder to be on the look out for diverse people out there walking and rolling  Write your City Councilperson and say eh, there are people walking and bicycling on this stretch of road, and it could be made safer.  I support that, please.  When we look out for dignity, we protect life and our power is greater.

“We know the full value when we see our own dignity reflected back in the eyes of others.”
(Hicks, Dignity, p. xv)

Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict by Donna Hicks

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