Windshield Perspective

There’s an interesting discussion taking place over at the Greater Greater Washington blog regarding what is called “windshield perspective”, or the tendency to sympathize with motorists while having little understanding of, or patience for, other road users.

The author describes riding on a bus and witnessing the bus driver aggressively honking at a bicyclist and pinching the rider toward the curb, this immediately after waiting patiently for motorists illegally parked in the same lane just a block before. The author makes the argument that bus drivers may need more training to prevent windshield perspective. I agree, but I’d go a step further to suggest that the unique issues associated with the most vulnerable road users — pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists — should be a much larger component of every driver’s training program.

Read the article

[For the record, I’ve found most of our City bus drivers to be more careful and courteous than many civilian motorists. —Alan]

7 Responses to “Windshield Perspective”

  • handmadegreen says:

    I’ve found the motorists in my new hometown of San Diego to be generally confused and oblivious about how to share the road with cyclists. I’ve had time to think about this while I bike commute to and from work, and I suggest that a solution is to make everyone bike commute at least once in their life to get a cyclists perspective. Despite the apparent popularity of biking in SoCal, I think that the majority of people haven’t ridden a bike since they were 10.

    also, I have a feeling that the aggressive jerk who almost ran me down yesterday is the same guy screaming at cars to slow down in HIS neighborhood.

  • Jim says:

    On the other hand, in my town the buses have bike racks on the front, which are used regularly enough that drivers seem to be familiar or at least attentive to the needs of cyclists. In fact, a few weeks ago I suffered a flat I was unequipped to fix (the valve stem partially tore out of the tube), so I took the bus home – and had a great conversation with the driver, who happened to a cyclist himself! Of course, that’s just one anecdote – buses and other big stop-and-go vehicles certainly can and do pose a hazard to folks on bikes.

  • Jon Grinder says:

    Here in Denver, I am convinced that the RTD drivers are trained in how to harass cyclists. The bus drivers in this town are, as a rule, not only discourteous to cyclists but criminally aggressive, in my experience.

    And, that’s despite the fact that all of the buses are equipped with bike racks.

    I’ve actually had an RTD bus driver stop his bus, open his window, lean out and scream at me to “get the f___k off the road”, after running a stop sign in front of me, causing me to have to skid to a halt to avoid a collision.

    This does not make me want to take the bus, by the way. Not good marketing, in my opinion.

  • Tamia Nelson says:

    Interesting observations. When living in Lakeside for a short time — near San Diego — I found that all motorists ( bus drivers included) to be far more courteous than I expected. Never was I squeezed, and I was always treated with respect. Eye-opening, particularly since here in far northern NY the attitude is often aggression toward cyclists — except from professional drivers. From dump truck drivers to semi-truck drivers, I’ve been almost uniformly accommodated. Not so with young pickup truck drivers.

  • bongobike says:

    Alan said:

    “I’d go a step further to suggest that the unique issues associated with the most vulnerable road users — pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists — should be a much larger component of every driver’s training program.”

    I agree 100%. At least here in Texas, I have yet to see any driver ed materials of any kind make more than cursory mention of these road users, something like “Be careful and watch out for bikes, motorcycles and pedestrians. OK? OK, let’s move on…” the usual roads-are-for-cars mentality.

  • Alan says:


    “the usual roads-are-for-cars mentality”

    Yup. It’s a good bet that nearly all drivers’ training curricula were written by motorists who have never ridden a bike or walked as a means of daily transportation.

  • virr says:

    I commute to work in San Diego (Clairemont to Mission Valley for those in the area) and generally haven’t had too many problems. Do drivers do the right thing always? No. Has it gotten better on the routes I ride? Yes, though it is possible I’ve just gotten better at riding in traffic. If possible I ride routes with less traffic or better bike lanes even if it adds some extra distance.

    Probably a quarter to a third of thes incidents have had have been with MTS buses. I’ve reported them to MTS (our local transit agency) and have always requested be notified of the outcome. I have yet to be notified for any of them.

    I will also point out that I have had problems with cyclists as well. Ride the wrong way in the bike lane and refusing to make room. Riding through stop signs and forcing me on my bike or cars to stop. Riding on the sidewalk then suddenly leaving it to ride in the street.

    There have even been a few pedestrians that gave me problems. Stepping out in the middle of the block from behind a big van. Three mothers with joggers walking side by side in the bike lane going against traffic forcing any cyclist into traffic.

    So all users need a little more education. Even me. I’ve done stupid things on my bike, luckily nothing bad has happened. Still it would help if everyone reviewed the rules once in awhile.

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