As someone who can do a lot of my travel by foot or on public transport, I drive fewer kilometres than the average. But sometimes I have to drive.
I was thinking about the things one can do to be a considerate driver with regard to more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and also specifically with sustainable modes such as pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.
Of course the first thing is simply observing the law: for instance giving way where required — when turning into streets (except roundabouts), turning in or out of private premises including car parks.
Stopping at the stop line (or equivalent spot), not beyond it, obviously. And avoiding entering intersections where the exit isn’t clear — common in the CBD, resulting in blocked pedestrian crossings.
Always indicating, of course, whether I can see people or not — as my driving instructor noted, it’s when you don’t notice someone nearby that it’s particularly important.
Giving way to buses pulling out from the kerb is not only mandated by law, it also gives me a warm inner glow.
Of course, don’t park on footpaths.
— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) September 1, 2015
But beyond what the law requires… what can one do to facilitate others, particularly those using more sustainable travel modes?
What can I do that not only keeps those people safe, it also makes their trip more pleasant, such that they are encouraged to keep doing it?
I tend to give way to pedestrians when I’m coming out of streets, even though this is not required by law.
When giving way or stopping for others, I don’t zoom up to the stop line then screech to a halt like I’m in a car chase. Coming to a stop slowly and acknowledging others with a nod if they look my way seems to me to be a way of giving them assurance that I’ve seen them and am willingly waiting for them. And I’ll give them plenty of space and time to cross, and not zoom past once they’re done.
Some motorists do this really badly, their driving style telling us they are only giving way grudgingly, and some appear to almost try to intimidate others to relinquish their right to go first.
I try to avoid having to wait to turn right, blocking trams. In fact I mostly tend to stick to non-tram roads when driving. There are plenty of them, and it helps us both.
If I feel like I have to sound the horn for safety reasons, I can do so with a short, gentle, almost cheerful “bip!” rather than a sustained angry “beeeeep!”
Staying at least a metre from cyclists isn’t yet law in Victoria, but is a good practice anyway.
What else can we do?