Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.
Below is an exemplary message written from a driver to a bicyclist after a near collision in Louisville, CO last week. As I post it (with the author’s blessing: “Louis, yes! Please feel free to use whatever you want. Maybe that will increase the chances that he’ll see this somehow!”)… as I post it, I know that the faults are bi-directional, and that drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians all make mistakes, the salient difference being the degree of vulnerability.
I quote at length because the driver, Mary, is so honest and avoids the old “sorry, but…” construction so many of us rely on. This is pure remorse, no blame, a rare confession:
I ordered lunch at Lulu’s today. I was being an impatient little piggy and trying to rush to my boyfriend’s BBQ nachos, so instead of parking normally I decided I would be an idiot and make a u-turn in the middle of the street to nab a parking spot closer to the restaurant. I wasn’t paying attention and almost backed into you as you were riding your bike past me.
When you rode past me you said, “Hey, that’s illegal!” which is 100% true.
Instead of apologizing, I leaned out of my window and cursed at you.
Two people from across the street told me I almost hit you and that I shouldn’t have cursed you out. Also true.
I’m writing here in the hopes that you’ll see it because you probably live in the Louisville area.
I just wanted to say that I’m really, really sorry. I have no idea why I responded that way, but I could’ve hit you or worse and you’re someone’s family member/significant other/loved one. I’m not sure what happened in my brain in that moment. I think I panicked and then lashed out because I was panicking. Sometimes when I get these spikes of anxiety it results in anger instead of normal, healthy behavior.
I also think I have all of this internalized guilt for being here in this town and taking up space. I come from a town that I was pushed out of thanks to gentrification. And I know I’m a part of that problem here. The least I can do is be kind and respectful and conscientious towards others — especially to the bikers who are much more vulnerable on the road. Not that these things are an excuse.
I didn’t do the right thing in the moment, but I really hope you see this, and if you do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you’d like. I’m sure from the outside to anyone reading this it seems very dramatic and mopey. I just have to find some way to take responsibility for my childish behavior, whether what I did was big or small or somewhere in between. I don’t want to be like those people who pushed me out of my own hometown.
To anyone reading this, please have a good day, and try not to be a shitty, dangerous neighbor like I am. ??
Thank you, Mary!
Post-script: just as this apology was posted on nextdoor·com, a more recent apology appeared, coming from another neighborhood.