This appeared in the Democrat on Saturday, August 14, 2010: Pedestrians, bicyclists deserve to live Pop quiz time for you drivers. You’re headed south on Bronough Street, near the library. Ahead are two yellow pedestrian signs and a striped crossing in the middle of the block. A librarian with a bag of books steps into the crosswalk as you’re building up a good head of steam from the light at Call Street. What do you do? (a .) Wonder what that thump was and pause from texting long enough to make a note in your iPhone to get the alignment checked. (b.) Lean on the horn, raise your middle finger and let the librarian know what you think about pedestrians and overdue fines. (c.) Come to a complete stop in mid-block and allow her to cross the street. Astoundingly, according to Florida Statute 316.130 (7b), the correct choice is "c." But trust me, no librarian is going to bet her life that you know that. This was a bad week to be out on the streets of Tallahassee. Not in your car, mind you, but getting around in any way that doesn’t include being wrapped in two tons of steel. Jill Caputo died Tuesday when she and her wheelchair were hit by an SUV on West Jefferson Street, and the same day, a bicyclist was hit and injured at Bronough and Carolina — one block from where a ghost bike now sits, marking the spot where another cyclist was killed in May. It’s too early to place blame in the most recent accidents. But it’s not too early to state the obvious: Walking or biking just about anywhere in Tallahassee is literally worth your life. A former reporter here was walking to lunch when he wound up on the hood of a car whose driver apparently thought a crosswalk at Mahan and Magnolia was some sort of visual aid to help draw a bead on pedestrians. I’ve seen tourists with panic in their eyes as they consider crossing North Monroe near LongHorn Steakhouse. When I’m out jogging, nine of 10 drivers will give me plenty of room (I smile and wave a thank you). But to that 1 in 10, I’m as inconsequential as a bit of litter in the road, and I can feel the breeze from the wide-view mirror as the truck roars by. An online bicycle group called Tal-Rides has stories. "The flyway? I think that’d be nuts"; "agitated drivers getting steamed behind me, cars switching lanes in a wild fashion once I get up on the road. A little spooky"; "A few (drivers) did the minimum — they moved over enough not to clip me, but not enough to meet the legal minimum (that’s 3 feet) or to give a cyclist a fair break. … I may have worn out my mirror, looking at it so hard." Zing!s and online comments (including, no doubt, comments that will be added to this column) make it clear: Many Tallahassee drivers have no time for pedestrians or bicyclists. The attitude is, "Get the heck off my road." I have two theories on this. The first is that people have poor time management. Think: Why do you have to be on the phone for those 10 minutes when you’re driving to work? Why are you so angry when a pedestrian makes you slow down or when a bicyclist causes you miss a light? Why are you so angry, period? (Near the courthouse the other day, a driver beeped another who was just sitting at a green light. The driver in front honked back furiously and shook his fist before speeding off.) If you’re in a hurry, leave five minutes earlier. You can skip the phone call, enjoy the scenery and maybe even see the pedestrian or the wheelchair at the corner. My second theory is that modern cars have made us forget how hard driving really is. Great sound systems, leather seats, quiet air conditioning, computers that shift our gears and literally watch our backs. Why not grab the laptop and get a little work done in this mobile living room? I read a great book this summer, "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)" by Tom Vanderbilt. He examines the incredible work the human brain — which did not evolve to function at more than 15 or 20 mph — has to do when we’re behind the wheel. Driving isn’t some video game in which the only goal is to stay on the road or sidewalk, with extra points for picking off pedestrians. We constantly make calculations involving our position and those of other divers, not to mention the proverbial kid chasing a ball into the road. Or a bicyclist. Or a person in a wheelchair. Read the book and you’ll be amazed we can get safely to the end of the block. The margin for error is so small, there’s no room for anger or resentment or even a cell phone. So leave early. Share the road. Calm down. Pay attention. A librarian and pedestrians all over town will thank you. Contact Mark Hohmeister at mhohmeister@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or (850) 599-2330.