I rode home on the lakefront last night. Coming up on the merge at Fullerton where the shoreline is under heavy construction, two women were walking on an odd path (perpendicular to the path, directly toward the construction entrance)–one of them had her head down, completely ignoring every single thing around her.
There was a man on a racing bike, decked out in all the racing gear, who was going quite fast, headed directly for her. He never slowed down, did not call out to her, did not even change his course. The only reason he did not hit her is because he almost hit her and she was so startled, she stopped short.
I apologized to her, though I had done nothing wrong. In the legal world, we have a concept of responsibility: “the last best chance to avoid harm”. There were four of us in the position here to avoid harm: the woman who was nearly hit, her companion, the man who nearly hit her, and me. Each of us had a responsibility in the situation. I was the furthest away, but I have both a voice and a bell–clearly I should have called out. The woman’s companion was only an arm’s length away and she was watching where they were walking; she could had called out or grabbed her friend’s arm. We both were in an excellent position to warn and should have.
The woman herself most certainly should have been paying attention and checked the path before she walked across it. It’s a heavily traveled path; it was right after work and a beautifully sunny day. She was irresponsible taking a perpendicular path, directly toward a place she could not logically be going (into the construction site) without checking for traffic or being aware of her surroundings.
But the last best chance to avoid harm was squarely with the man on the racing bike. It’s a heavily traveled path; pedestrians are slow and hard to predict. He was going quite fast (although not too fast for conditions–the day was chilly and pedestrians were sparse enough on the Lakefront for me to be there in the evening) entering an intersection.
The most vulnerable road user requires the most care from the least. It was pure luck that he did not hurt her badly and I am still angry at his lack of care.
I guess generally right now, I’m just angry at lack of care in the world.