Four Kindergarten Rules Every Road User Should Follow

Ellen with her new bike

Four Kindergarten Rules Every Road User Should Follow

I bought a bike! Everyone, meet Gigi! She’s a sweetheart.

We’re about the same age, have similar interests, and both love the colo(u)r green. She’s a Gumtree find (which is the UK’s Craigslist) and we’re pretty much best buds at this point.

Ellen riding toward Parliament on the Westminster Bridge

Photo cred to Britton, who refuses to get his own Instagram account so I can credit him properly.

Gigi and I have a lot to learn about cycling in London — not least of which is which junctions to avoid at all costs — and today’s ride was particularly frustrating at certain points due primarily to the attitude of all the road users (myself included). As I was swearing and cursing under my breath but mostly out loud, I realized that everyone would be a lot happier on the road if we took a few cues from our Kindergarten days. A few simple reminders could help people be a lot safer.

  1. Share.
    I mean it when I say everyone is included under the “road user” umbrella. Cars and bikes CAN get along, and we CAN share the space. That means no edging cyclists into the gutter, and likewise not cutting a cab off while jockeying for position at the traffic light. There’s more than enough pavement for everyone, even when the paint doesn’t designate specific lane positioning.
  2. Take Turns.
    The kicker with this rule is that it means you have to be courteous to everyone else. It means you might be one whole car length behind where you otherwise would have been. GASP.
  3. Be Patient.
    Take a deep breath before you yell. Leave ample space behind a cyclist. Leave ample room between you and the side of the bus (and if there isn’t space; don’t go!). Wait four seconds for a cyclist to get up to speed after being stopped at a light. Wait behind the driver who’s turning instead of zipping around him/her. Just … take a beat before you do something rash!
  4. Use Kind Words.
    Are the thoughts running through your head nice? Will you ever see that cyclist or driver or pedestrian ever again? No? Then maybe don’t say words at all. I’m not suggesting you have to befriend every road user. I’m just saying that the old rule about not saying anything if you can’t say something nice should totally apply on the road. (This might also be the advice I will have the most difficulty adhering to… We all have our vices and one of mine is definitely swearing.)

What do you think? Can you take these rules to heart, bearing in mind that many a five-year-old — with a bit of practice and gentle reminders from someone twice their size and twenty years their senior — can achieve them after just a few weeks?

I’m certainly going to try!

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