THIS PAST WEEKEND I along with about five or six other people were eye witnesses to what could have been a horrible accident between an SUV and a bicyclist.
It all started Saturday morning as I was walking to my wife's work. I was about a half block from our house looking toward the first intersection that I had walk through. As I looked past that intersection, I noticed a woman, a few years younger than me, on her bike with walkman headphones on. She had a bag with stuff in it and a soda in one hand and she was steering the bike with the other hand. I remember thinking, that's not very safe and recalled lecturing my young son about safe habits when he rides his bike.
Not more than five seconds after that, she blew through that intersection and was hit by an SUV. A crowd immediately gathered and the police were on the scene in less than 60 seconds. After briefly pausing at the accident scene, it was obvious she was receiving attention from the police officers so I continued my walk.
As I approached the next intersection, I almost saw two automobile accidents involving emergency vehicles responding to the downed cyclist. Both because of motorists trying to beat the emergency vehicles through the intersection. To top it all off, in the one lane of traffic where the motorist actually did yield the right of way, the driver behind was laying on his horn and yelling obscenities out his window at the driver in front of him.
These occurances aren't unique to where I live. They are, however, a great example of how a lot of people today go through life totally oblivious to everything around them. Let's take a look at the woman on the bike. In addition to operating the bike in the unsafe manner I described earlier, she was riding on the wrong side of the street and on the sidewalk (both illegal here). Plus, she blew through the instersection without looking for oncoming traffic. When the other witnesses initially gathered, they began yelling at the driver of the SUV. Everyone was totally oblivious to what had just played out before their eyes and they had no problem telling a story that was not entirely true. Eventually, the police got to the bottom of what really happened. The SUV driver was cleared and except for a few bumps, scrapes, and bruises, the woman on the bike was okay. She is going to have to pay a few fines though for the infractions she committed.
The failure of the drivers to yield for emergency vehicles, along with the man blowing his horn and screaming obscenities are just of a couple more examples of the lack of attention and rudeness that seems to flourish in our society today. Between that and the people who have no regard for the rules or each other, I'm surprised that scenes like the one I witnessed Saturday don't play out more often.
I just thank God everyday that there are men and women out there who serve as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics who are willing to put themselves in the middle of that kind of insanity on a daily basis to protect the rest of us from those among us who are nothing more than totally oblivious.