I recently read a blog post from Keri at Commute Orlando in which she describes removing obstructions (garbage cans) from one of the bike lanes she uses. I thought that was nice of her. Coincidentally, I was also able to help others out on my way home today:
I know it looks for all the world like I made a conscious effort to stay out of the shot, but I had forgotten about the camera and when I remembered the video, I fully expected to see myself pushing that car. What's also interesting to me after the fact is that I was helping to obstruct a bike lane! I guess the global karmic balance of bike lane blockage needed to be upheld somehow, so I proceeded to undo Keri's work in my own way.
Cyclists and pedestrians are in a unique position to be helpful. Beyond the ease with which we can just pull over and dismount (or, um, stop and walk in a different direction), we are more likely to respond to the people and things around us because 1) we're not speeding by too fast to react and 2) we're not encased and insulated by a metal box. I am sure the good cycling people who read this blog have all kinds of stories where they were able to help out a little and were more likely to do so thanks to being on a bike. For myself, I most often find myself removing stuff from the roadway, like garbage bags:
I wouldn't have gotten out of my car in the rain. For everyone who stops to help, no matter how you get around, thanks!