I almost hit two people: one a pedestrian, the other on a bicycle. And I came away angry as hell, because each of them did something stupid that put them in my path.
The pedestrian was a jogger, running along the sidewalk toward a curve in the road where I, a driver, had to veer left. It is a confusing intersection, because cars make that turn and then come to a stoplight (for those familiar with Toronto, it's the Don Valley Parkway exit onto Bloor, which takes you around the curve to Castle Frank). But that doesn't excuse what this woman did.
Although there is a sidewalk, pedestrians should be on the opposite side if they want to cross, because then they're not jaywalking across a three-lane road where cars are not required to stop before making the curve. But jaywalk is exactly what my jogger did. Fortunately, I spotted her on my left, running toward the road. I also noted that she was looking straight across at the opposite side, instead of to her right to see if there was a car about to flatten her.
Just as I figured she would, she ran right out and directly in front of my car. Since I'd anticipated her doing that, I was already on the stoppers. If I hadn't already been braking, I would have hit her.
A little while later, I was making a right-hand turn, on a green light. There were a lot of pedestrians in the area (Spadina and Nassau) and so I checked to my left, as well as to my right. That's when I saw a cyclist coming, and realized that even though he was looking at a red light, he had absolutely no intention of stopping. I did, which avoided him smashing into my driver's door.
In both instances, if I hadn't anticipated these people doing something incredibly stupid, there wouldn't have been time to hit the brakes and avoid the collision. In both instances, I blew my horn. I scared last night's dinner out of the jogger; she wasn't paying attention and had no idea she'd run into traffic. The cyclist, whose bag indicated that he was delivering food for some app-based service, didn't bat an eye. It was obvious he didn't give a fiddler's fart about traffic rules, or how close he came to being a statistic.
And what would have happened in each case, if I hadn't looked both ways, and hadn't anticipated what these people were going to do? The papers would have reported tragic cases of pedestrians or cyclists versus traffic. People would have brought flowers to the site, or set up a ghost bike. Activists would have wrung their hands about how vulnerable road users don't stand a chance in the city.
I would have been The Bad Guy. Because no one would have asked, "Well, who set it up for that collision to happen?"
People: it's a city. There is traffic. There are a lot of drivers who are at fault, who turn right while looking to the left, who run red lights, who turn in front of cyclists. As drivers, we have to look in every direction, no matter what, no matter if the light's green or if we're not required to stop. We have to anticipate situations, not react to them. We have to drive as if everyone is going to walk against the light, or dart out into traffic, or ignore the rules.
But vulnerable road users -- pedestrians and cyclists -- have to do their part, too. Take the damn headphones out of your ears and listen for traffic. Put down the goddamn phone and watch where you're going. Obey the lights. Obey the signs. Because if you don't, you're going to meet up with someone in a car. And believe me, no matter who's at fault, you're going to lose.