Have you noticed how oblivious people are to their surroundings these days? (Now there’s a telling question: be careful how you answer!)
Well, I’ve noticed it, and it is especially noticeable when cycling.
People seem to be in their own little worlds. Drivers have this glazed look in their eyes. Pedestrians have a thousand yard stare. Even other cyclists often seem to have blinkers on.
Perhaps there are some practical explanations for all this. Technology has a lot to answer for. Pedestrians and cyclists – and even drivers – are often texting or making a phone call as they go. Or they’re wearing earphones, which in my opinion is especially stupid when cycling.
But I wonder if there is another, more subtle, factor involved. People don’t seem to value awareness anymore. Rather than open themselves up to the world, they want to shut themselves away. Maybe 24 hour (bad) news has made people anxious, and they want to forget about reality.
Maybe, for the same reason, people don’t trust each other anymore, and so they want to forget they are part of a community. I find it especially sad when I stop for someone at a zebra crossing, or let someone go first, and they don’t say ‘thank you’. It’s as though they have forgotten that there could be such a thing as a benevolent gesture from another person. Or maybe they’ve just got no manners themselves.
Or maybe they think they’re in one big video game, or in a film where they’re the star, with the soundtrack blaring in their ears. Technology probably changes people's attitudes, too.
Whatever the explanation, obliviousness is all around. Look out for it – not least because if other road users aren’t being careful enough, you need to be even more alert when cycling.