On the last post, Tim of Tim’s Cycling Blog comments:
Humans are NOT capable of the intense concentration and reactions that driving requires, humans should not be in control of vehicles moving at such high speeds. Humans are in such vehicles because of progress and peoples lives are acceptable loses in the push for progress in modern society.
I do not buy this for a second.
Let me illustrate this with an analogy: Whenever women complain online about men hitting on them cluelessly/offensively/creepily, the responses generally fall into three categories:
– Blind hatred (how dare you say I can’t hit on any woman any time I want! Stuck-up bitches! THOUGHTCRIME! GEORGE ORWELL!)
– Other women/non-sexist men saying “Wow, that sucks. I hate it when that happens to me/I had no idea you had to put up with that/I didn’t realize it came off that way, I won’t hit on girls in elevators again”
– Men apologizing on behalf of their sex by claiming that yeah, it’s awful, but men just do not have the social/emotional skills to approach women without being creepers or assholes, so you should take it in your stride.
The first one is straight-up misogyny, of course; the second the appropriate, empathetic, human response; the last not so sexist (except possibly against men) but still complete bullshit.
If men have such awful social skills, why don’t they routinely make inappropriate comments to, say, their employers? Their clients? Their clergy? Their prospective inlaws?
The most logical explanation is that men do, by and large, have perfectly adequate social skills. But a percentage refuse to use them when dealing with a social inferior, like a woman they want to have sex with.
Likewise, I don’t buy for a second that drivers are incapable of paying attention to cyclists or pedestrians. They are perfectly capable of seeing other cars, trucks, and stationary objects. Like those guys who would never say “Hey dude, what’s with that tie?” to their boss but will say “I find you extremely desirable” to a random woman just trying to read a book in a cafe*, some percentage of drivers feel free to ignore pedestrians and cyclists, because they are just not important.
Humans do have a limited capacity to deal with distractions, and it’s understandable that the speeding tonne of metal coming towards you is more of a pressing concern than the girl in the pink coat trying to cross the street. But if there’s something humans have an infinite capacity for, it is understanding, responding to, and reinforcing heirarchies. Forgive me if I think my invisibility has more to do with the latter than the former.
And honestly, if we with our poor little monkey brains can master the piano, build computers that fit in a breast pocket, and speak Hungarian (15 declensions, people), I think we should be able to manage to operate cars without murdering each other.
*Yes, this has happened to me.