I've been thinking for a long time about transportation behavior. As I become older, I seem to get more impatient and frustrated with the inconveniences and irritations of driving, both on freeways and hiways, as well as on city and suburban streets. As our environment becomes more and more crowded, each day is increasingly a negotiation of interruptions, delays, mishaps, ill-tempered dialogues, etc.
When I was a kid growing up in Richmond, California (age 4-7), our grammar school had a formal demonstration provided by the local police department. It was meant to be frightening, so that the students wouldn't forget it. All the students were lined up on both sides of the big black-top playground, and a patrol car, driven by an officer, was accelerated from one end, up to a speed, say, of 35 mph, and then the brakes were applied precipitously, causing the car to slide, sideways, about a hundred feet, burning rubber all the way. This was frightening to watch, not least because we knew what was coming. (Probably, today, such an event wouldn't be allowed, for liability and safety reasons.) The point of the demonstration was to show us kids how difficult an automobile is to stop suddenly. We were told with methodical deliberateness: "Always look both ways before crossing the street. Always wait for cars to pass before negotiating a cross walk. Never cross in the middle of the street." These imprecations were delivered with grave seriousness. On the other hand, bicycle training--behavior and law--was completely neglected in those years (1950's thru 1970's). Most kids didn't bother to license their bikes, and we navigated "by the seat of our pants," hardly aware of hazards or regulation.