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So true.


This is an interesting and thought-provoking observation, thanks for posting.

I think the difference lies in perception of need and choice. As an example, here's a story from my past in which I was the crank (!) ...

About 15 yrs ago, my wife had a job in which she drove all over a metropolitan area, including parts of the city in which she didn't feel entirely comfortable. She called me one day because she'd gotten a flat and needed my help. I was *really* frustrated by her request. As I tried to shuffle my day to get out and help her, she called back and told me some guy stopped and helped her, and she was getting ready to get back on the road.

That really made me think. Why wasn't I willing to extend the same kindness to my wife that a total stranger would? And, would I be more willing to similarly help a stranger on the side of the road than I was to help my own wife?

Perception of need. Seeing my wife on the side of the road, the kind stranger perceived a "damsel in distress" who needed his help. What I knew, though, was that we had paid for not one, but two auto services subscriptions through which a phone call would summon professionals in large vehicles with the right equipment and expertise to help her get back on the road very quickly. My perception was that she didn't need my help. We had taken extra steps as a family to ensure that she would have appropriate resources at hand to solve the problem without needing me (whether I was out of town or simply busy).

Choice. Of all possible ways she could've solved the problem, she *chose* the one that most inconvenienced me. And that is why I was so frustrated.

You're right that you could need crutches because you kicked a kitten, but that's not our cultural perception of folks on crutches. We see them as folks who are unfortunately going through a bum period of time, and who don't want to be a burden, but don't really have a choice right now. With that perception of need, most people generally want to help (as you've experienced).

We bike commuters are a whole different story though. Of all possible ways to get to work, we actively choose one that some motorists perceive as inconveniencing them, and that makes them frustrated.

Doesn't make it right, of course, I should've helped my wife more willingly, and we shouldn't face incivility on the roads because of our travel mode. But, that's my take on it. :-)

Jack Warman
Durham, NC


I'm sorry you are on crutches. No fun!

I think the difference may be in how people act when they are driving cars versus how they act on foot. In my experience, driving is more combative. Dunno.


I'm sorry you are on crutches. No fun!

I think the difference may be in how people act when they are driving cars versus how they act on foot. In my experience, driving is more combative. Dunno.


The first year+ after my concussion (not bike related) one of my problems was that my balance was broken. It was kind of like being on a boat. A spinning and shaking boat.

It may have been like being drunk or hungover, but I don't have any firsthand experience of that to compare it to.

Anyway, I had a very real injury that caused me very real problems. One of the things I noticed was that I was treated like a drunken bum, because my injury wasn't accessorized with a cast, or crutches.

At least once, a bus driver refused to open the door and let me on, after I put great effort into making my way (stumbling, like a drunk) to the bus.

When I got on a bus, people just gave me dirty looks. If I was wearing a cast or walking with crutches, they'd have given me their seats.

It was a huge lesson in (a) not judging people and (b) seeing that everyone, no matter how fucked up they seem, is fighting their own battles.


You obviously havent been on crutches in a third world or former soviet country,

they treat you like rubbish blocking their way

I dont mind cyclists on the road, unless they are riding 2 or 3 wide at 12 mph.
which sadly is the way 90% of em ride.

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