Toronto's Globe and Mail... Dear Driver... Dear Cyclist...
Here's how the Toronto Newspaper, The Globe and Mail handles the Bikes V. Cars situiation
ROAD WARRIORS: BIKES V. CARS
People, people, can't we all just get along?
Toronto motorists are street hogs who would cream a cyclist just to get to Starbucks three seconds faster, Nathan Whitlock writes. But, as Nathan Whitlock also writes, the city's cyclists are self-important jerks who think rules are for suckers. As a guy who bikes and drives, he's got some advice for peace on the pavement
Special to The Globe and Mail
August 23, 2008
As you well know, the relationship between bikes and cars in Toronto this summer has not been a happy one. Thus, as we head into fall - a time of new beginnings - I am offering up some etiquette tips for you and your fellow drivers. After all, given how much gas costs, you may find more and more of us cyclists out there on your morning and afternoon drives. The hope is that, by making a few things clear and by setting out some very simple guidelines, we might find a way to peacefully share the road.
...And already I see have introduced a term that may be somewhat alien to you: "share." How about we make that our first point?
Share the road
Print Edition - Section Front
We cyclists know that, when it comes to road-building and overall transportation policy, we are little more than an afterthought, at best. In this city, the car is king. The recent creation of the Toronto Cyclists Union, an advocacy and action group made up of long-time cycle activists and casual bikers alike, is a hopeful sign, but for the moment, we are at your mercy. Which is why we ask you, ever so humbly, to accept our legitimacy, to not treat bikers like intruders upon your sacred stretch of pavement. Everything else I have to offer flows from that simple request.
Look before you turn, stop, park or open the door
... and the last point refers to you, too, taxi passengers.
This is a big part of sharing the road. Lacking your protective glass-and-steel exoskeleton, we bikers are vulnerable to the slightest knock. What would perhaps be only a fender-bender or a scratch to you could to us be a life-threatening accident. Is it any wonder that the bike couriers who whip up and down Bay Street are so crazy? Asking that you check to see that we are not already occupying, or about to occupy, the space you're planning to move into seems a small consideration.
Turn off the cellphone
Especially relevant in a case where being fully aware of your surroundings is vital. Seems a bit rude to place a business call above structural integrity of our skulls.
Try a little patience
It's true that traffic congestion is always slowing you down and threatening to make you late, but really - pausing to allow bikes to pass before making a turn across their lane is not going to make things that much worse.
There is nothing better than to be hurtling along a smooth country road in a fast car with no one around forever, but Yonge Street is not Highway 7, and there are an awful lot of us around, so take it easy.
Bikers aren't angels, we're the first to admit that, and sometimes we bend and break the rules of the road - either out of self-defence or just 'cause. Don't hate us for it. After all, we're usually only risking our own lives. Which is far different from when, say, a car breaks the rules.
Thank you for your suggestions. I especially appreciate that you were able to deliver them without banging your fist on the hood of my car, ringing your bell incessantly, or loudly suggesting that I "learn how to drive!" You must be in a good mood - did the police finally find your old bike in one of Igor Kenk's garages?
In the same spirit of helpfulness, I will offer my own etiquette suggestions for you, with a similar hope that peace will reign on our mutual commute. And I'll begin where you did, with sharing.
Share the road
I'll admit that many of my fellow drivers have trouble getting their heads around the mere fact of bicycles on a road built for cars, but remember that respect is a two-way street. Do unto others, etc., and the first step is accepting that not all drivers are dangerous morons who'd drive over you just to avoid spilling their coffee. If you want a friend, be a friend, and all that.
Pick a lane
Bike lanes, by definition, are for bikes. Assuming there's not three feet of snow or a delivery van parked in your lane, you oughta use it for all it's worth. (There's one on Harbord Street big enough for a parade of bicycles.) You stay out of our lanes and we'll stay out of yours.
Don't ride blind
Cars have blind spots - riding in one is just asking for trouble. Drivers have blind spots, too, mostly due to the concentration needed to operate a motor vehicle in a city. You see us better than we see you, so stay alert.
Lay off the bell
A little ping! now and then to ward off trouble is fine, but some of you seem to think you're handing out angel's wings out there.
There are scenes in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior less unnerving than having half-a-dozen cyclists suddenly passing your car on all sides at top speed.
Follow the rules
Some bikers are like children, who want rights without responsibilities, freedom without restrictions. A stop sign is a stop sign is a stop sign, and the rules of the road apply to you every bit as to me. Earn your place on the road.
Don't be so touchy
Mistakes will be made. The occasional car will make the occasional bad turn. Someone will park where they are not supposed to. A driver will open his door at an inopportune time. I don't mean to trivialize your grievances when I say that not every momentarily careless or distracted driver needs to be brought before a human rights commission.
The "two wheels good, four wheels bad" crowd may be fighting for all the right things - more bike lanes, dedicated bike paths, etc. - but political change is rarely brought about by screaming righteously at some frightened commuter from Etobicoke in his Honda Civic. If we can declare a general ceasefire, we can better focus on our mutual enemy, the real villains of the road: pedestrians
Last edited by K'Tesh; 09-11-2008 at 10:01 AM.