When we lived in Hsinchu it was common knowledge that whenever a driver of any kind of a large vehicle hit you it was best for them to make sure you were dead, because the costs related to your death were less than your continued care while in and out of the hospital. So it was said that if you get hit watch out as truck drivers might back up for another pass to finish the job. How true that actually was I don’t know but I do know that the cost of hitting anyone with your scooter, bicycle, or car could cripple you financially. This despite Taiwan having a health care system equal to, or superior to, what we enjoy here.
With that in mind I still road my bike for a number of years, and when Camren was really young, with him in a trailer behind me. This we would do in the back narrow roads that lead from our house in the hills, to his kindergarten, all the while sharing the road with huge cement trucks that would regularly come within an inch or two of my bike. The same could be said of running, which was at times in a pretty hostile environment, as you dodge vehicles that would speed close enough so you could rap on the window to break the drivers from their stress induced myopia.
That said I think it mostly worked, at least for me as I’m still here, and able to utilize my legs. Part of this was due to a combination of looking out for yourself, the realization that there are kinds of things (people, dogs don’t fare well, cars, scooters, bicycles) sharing the roads, and the confidence and skill to be able to negotiate small distances when driving.
These factors don’t seem to exist here in Charlottetown – particularly in the heavily trafficked Hillsborough bridge and connecting streets. Every time I ride or run across the bridge I am convinced that drivers of vehicles large and small have no idea I exist on the road. It’s especially disconcerting when you see a large gravel truck slowly veering over the white line on the road as it speeds towards you.
This isn’t necessarily the case everywhere. When running on rural roads many drivers give me an extraordinarily wide berth. In Cornwall people used to slow down and ask me if I wanted to talk a break and get a drive home. In other cases people toot their horns and wave as they go by.
There is something about that Stratford to Charlottetown connection that brings out the less than friendly part of people.