Sunday, 6 January 2013
Stupid motorist suggestions to cyclists
|City sign on Wellington Crescent reminding cyclists |
that motorists have a right to use the road.
Signs like these lined most of Wellington
Image Source: Photo taken by The Analyst
A while ago I bicycled a good 20-25 km through our city to visit relatives. Along Wellington Crescent I stumbled across this lovely reminder of who really matters to City Hall (photo to the left). With this as some context, there's two pieces of (stupid) advice self-entitled motorists give to bicyclists that need to be whacked down.
Get off the road (and onto the sidewalk)!
Sometimes the continent of self-entitled and ignorant motorists will shout out the first part from their automobiles. Spewing this verbal harassment reveals a major gap in their driver's education - they don't know that bicyclists have a right to the road. It's in The Highway Traffic Act. Also in the act is the fact that it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk if you have a bike whose wheel's diameter exceeds 410 mm.
This is serious ignorance of the law governing the road. Self-entitled motorists need to be educated and informed of the laws they have to obey on the road. This puts to shame the one-sided "reminders" to bicyclists all over residential streets in Winnipeg: where are similar reminders to the many motorists ignorant of bike-riders right to use the road?
There's a second type of motorist (and even some cyclists) who, out of faux or genuine concern, recommends bicycling on the sidewalk. Little do they know that dangerous accidents actually happen coming off sidewalks, as motorists don't expect fast-moving bikes coming from there. Indeed, 20% of bicyclist injury claims in Manitoba involve sidewalk cyclists crossing intersections. Sidewalk biking is dangerous.
Ride off the main roads!
Some motorists claim that bicyclists would be safer and wouldn't "hold up traffic" if they rode exclusively on side streets, back lanes, and smaller streets. This suggestion is wrongheaded all year round for the fact that side streets can't get you everywhere in Winnipeg and trying to stick exclusively to them would add an obscene amount of time to most bicycle commutes. Though maybe these same people who whine time and time again about being "held up" by bikes for a few seconds think that bicyclists sacrifice all the time in the world. These motorists might even save a good minute on commutes across the city if they never had to pass bicyclists!
In winter, this advice is pretty dangerous. A lot of low traffic residential/side streets aren't well cleared, leading to lumps of snow and uneven terrain. It took considerable effort to remained balanced and not fall over biking down Inglewood Street, quicker cyclists would fall off often on the side streets. Again, cyclists' needs are relegated to peripheral status to people giving out this "advice".
What does this all mean?
These propositions really reveal a nasty attitude: that of bicycle commuters as second-class citizens whose needs matter little. This attitude has even seeped it's way into city services, stifling our ability to become a less car-overdependent city. Something's gotta give.
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