Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Golden Rule - Road user style

I was recently at a very special ceremony that honoured 150 of Toronto's youth who were employed by the Toronto Police Service this summer in a program called, "Youth in Policing Initiative."

It provides youth from several Toronto neighbourhoods the opportunity to work hand in hand with Toronto's finest in all areas of the service.

The Service Chaplain, Reverend Walter Kelly gave a memorable address to these youth and made a particular point to talk about, "The Golden Rule."

I got to thinking about that rule as it relates to driving. How many of us remember the rule...

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

(Yes, I know there are about 20 different ways to say it, but that's my preference, my blog.)

So how does this apply to a "road safety blog"? Simple, let me show you.

1.) You see someone trying to change lanes...signal goes on, shoulder check and you accelerate to stop them. Hmmm, is that what you want done to you?

2.) A driver mistakenly cuts you off. You get enraged and have a little traffic tantrum and give a non-polite hand gesture and cut them off in return. Hey, people make mistakes. Is that what you want people to do to you when you make an honest error?

3.) You're walking along the sidewalk, talking on your cell phone and walk into someone coming the other way...naturally they did not see your obvious importance in life so you make a crack about their ability to watch where they are going. Guess you want the same in return.

4.) Your neighbours 4 year old child is learning how to ride a bicycle. You are in a hurry to get home for dinner and blast through your neighbourhood. Guess you forgot how scary it was to be learning something new. Maybe your neighbour will return the favour when your kids are starting out.

5.) The driver in front of you hesitates when making a left turn on a busy road. In your grand expertise you lay on the horn and begin yelling at their incompetence as a road user. Well, we aren't all as gifted as you and may take more time to ensure safety for others.

6.) The driver in front of you is doing 58k in a 60k zone and you know you can go that 1 k faster so you decide to drive as close to their bumper as you can to give the hint to speed up or get out of the way. Too much work for you to stay back, relax and wait for them to move or pass where it is safe?

OK, so, a couple of those are extreme, but you get the point...I hope. I'm sure you can come up with many more examples on your own.

In the end, just think how much easier and safer we could all get around this great city! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Treat others only in ways that you're willing to be treated in the same exact situation.

Help people merge, change lanes. Allow pedestrians to cross the street safely by paying attention and being patient. Forgive people for mistakes they make, it's not personal so don't take it that way. Wave and show regret when you make a mistake and someone points it out to you.

Road safety is every one's your part and use the roads by practising "The Golden Rule."


  1. Yes, these are nice rules to live by. I would expect that police officers would be the best example of this, but it's often not the case. Within the last few weeks of cycling to work I have seen police officers riding their bikes on the sidewalk, parking their cars in bike lanes while eating breakfast, rolling through stop signs without stopping, etc.

    The "Golden Rule" needs some leadership by example.

  2. Lenni and Vic...thanks for the comments.
    Vic you left out that police are also responding to 911 calls, running into trouble when everyone else is running away, arresting criminals, protecting neighbourhoods, etc.
    You are right though, we should be setting the example for the rest of society.

  3. Yes, of course. I can fully understand that police need to bend / break the traffic laws during emergency situations. I have no problem with this, when done in a reasonable and careful way.

    But every time I have seen cops roll through stop signs, ride their bikes on the sidewalk, or park in the bike lane (especially on Annette St.) they were most certainly not rushing to an emergency. If anything, they were creating dangerous situations themselves. In addition to setting a bad example and contradicting the laws....

  4. Sorry for the misunderstanding Vic. I was just pointing out the other things that we do. It is sad to see our officers doing the things you mentioned when there is no urgency or emergency. We work hard to set an example for all, but truly unless you are in the car with them, you don't know what they are, sitting having breakfst while the scout is parked in a bike lane..ugh.