Near Oak Bay High School, I was waiting for the bus with my daughter, who was swilling a bottle of milk in her perambulator (yes, it's a stroller but definitely of retro rather than nouveau variety). Suddenly, across Cadboro Bay Road, I saw an SUV lurch through the crosswalk, suddenly stop, and then a woman's handbag land in the middle of the road.
The driver had just struck a pedestrian.
Fortunately, the woman who had been hit was all right: scratched and bruised, with a twisted ankle and in a great deal of shock. Other witnesses—as well as the driver of the SUV—quickly came to her aid. I called 911 and the police swept in.
But it all could have been much worse. And from my experience as a cyclist and especially as a pedestrian, it's getting all too common.
The problem seems to be the rising restlessness of drivers caught in traffic—as was that case that morning along Cadboro Bay Road, as a line of cars bottlenecked in both directions while students crossed to get to school—and their willingness to take chances with other people's lives. The Hippocratic Drivers Oath—first, do no harm—gets tossed out the window with the urge to make up minutes and even just seconds on an ever-longer commute. The perceived "right" to get where you're going as promptly as possible overrides the very real responsibility to not put other drivers, and especially cyclists or pedestrians, at risk. Sitting inside the airbagged box of a vehicle makes too many drivers (and I've been one of them) think, and behave, like they're president of the Republic of Me.
Case in point: Even after the injured pedestrian had been helped to the sidewalk. Even after two police cars parked with their flashing lights on. Even as other walkers gathered around what was obviously an accident scene. Even then, two cars approached Cadboro Bay Road from the nearest side street, and then the rear driver laid on the horn because the driver in front of her wasn't making the right turn (through the crosswalk / accident site) as fast as she would have liked. Once that car was goaded into motion, the rear driver then swerved into traffic with the same impatience that had bowled over the pedestrian just five minutes before.
It was one of those moments you can't believe what you just saw.