Friday, September 16, 2016

Cycling in the City

Bicycles

Photos: September 14, 2016

Let me begin by saying I admire people who choose cycling as their means of transportation. I would not like to ride along with traffic. My cycling is limited to paths outside the city (and I haven't done that in a few years).

But now I will begin my rant against those cyclists who feel entitled. My city government is trying to make Montreal more cycle friendly. We have many kilometres of cycle paths, some protected and others just lanes demarcated by painted lines on streets. All the laws being proposed have to do with motor vehicles, none about cyclists. I do understand that if a car hits a cyclist, it is the cyclist who will be injured, but the driver will also live with the trauma. Here are cyclist infractions I have seen in the past few days:
  • driving the wrong way on a one way street
  • driving on the sidewalk
  • talking on a cell phone (not hands free) while cycling
  • my spouse saw someone taking a selfie while riding in traffic
  • going through stop signs and red lights (this is a regular one) - I know someone in another city who was hit by a cyclist going through a red light. Four surgeries later her arm is still not perfect. The cyclist just picked himself up and went on his merry way with no consequences.
  • driving through parks where there is a no bicycle sign and there is a designated bike path elsewhere in the park
  • driving while holding parcels and a cup of coffee (how will he operate the brakes?)
  • driving no hands (our city is full of pot holes - hitting one without control could be disastrous)
Then there are the safety infractions
  • no lights on a bike while riding at night and wearing dark clothes (I could be stopped by police and fined if my car lights were not on or were burned out)
  • no reflectors
  • no helmet 
  • no use of hand signals when turning
  • driving in between lanes of cars ( a law here says cars have to be at least 1.5 metres away from a cyclist, but there is no law that says cyclists have to stay away from cars)

Bixi Bikes
Bixis (bike sharing bicycles), fully equipped with front and rear lights as well as side reflectors 
There are those who just do not understand driving safety
  • being unaware of blind spots, especially for trucks - a number of fatal accidents have been caused by trucks turning right past a cycle lane after a light change. Cyclists move ahead unaware of what the truck will do. Cyclists should stop where they can see the turn signals. 
There are no cyclists "driver's ed courses". There is no requirement for a license. There is no requirement for a helmet (all drivers and passengers have to buckle up in cars for safety reasons). 

I am all for making our city safer for cyclists but some of the onus has to be on the cyclists themselves to realize that if they want to use city streets they have to operate in a safe manner and respect the traffic code! I think licensing should be mandatory and along with the license should be a booklet which explains the traffic code and defensive driving tactics. Maybe then our city could be safer for both cyclists and drivers of motorized vehicles.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that road safety is a two way street - both drivers and cyclists must know the rules of the road and take safety precautions. I'm not sure about licensing and, believe me, even with a license and booklet there would be many who would disregard safety. In peak tourist times in our county, even the bike paths are dangerous because people don't know what they're doing. Some haven't ridden a bike in years and then try to ride up and down our steep grades. Children tend to be all over the place with no parent teaching them to stay to the side. People stop and stand on blind curves or other dangerous spots with no regard for who might be coming. Also people will ride 2-3 abreast, disregarding others using the paths. (This also happens on the road.) Bob is an avid cyclist and I certainly love to bike. However, I've stayed off the paths most of the summer because I can't deal with the tension of sharing the space with people who are oblivious. However, drivers are also texting, talking on their cells, and eating/drinking/ gawking and not paying attention. It's scary!

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