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
Crescent.

Image Source: Photo taken by The Analyst
Note: This post is criticizing the attitudes of self-entitled motorists. Many of Winnipeg's motorists are not self-entitled, but rather respectful, polite, and courteous drivers well versed in Manitoba's traffic laws. This post should not be taken as a critique of the Winnipeg motorist community as a whole. 

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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13 comments:

  1. Its just a reminder. Seems there are alot of "dumb " cyclists who think they own the road.

    On the road, competing with over a ton of metal traveling at speed, and in the snow to boot, you ARE a second class citizen.

    Act accordingly. Or as the sign says, you are Reminded that vehicles have the right of use.

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    1. There is a contingent of cyclists who do run through stop signs (which is dumb & wrong), pass vehicles on the right during rush hour (which is dumb & wrong), & even a few who drive on the wrong side of the road (which is dumb & wrong). But if you mean cyclists who drive nearer to the middle of the right lane, that's perfectly reasonable. The traffic act says that cyclists have to remain as far right as "practicable". Pot holes, parked cars, puddles, snow, ice, and the risk of automobiles unsafely passing you often make the middle of the right lane as far right as "practicable", though I often try to stay as far-right as possible (despite the fact, as commenters have warned, big vehicles can have a blindspot there - so riding closer to the centre of the right lane would probably be safer).

      But you're still wrongheaded about cyclists being second class citizens because "bikes are smaller". City signs don't constantly remind Volkswagen Beatle drivers that "SUVS" or "semi-trucks" have the "right of use". Since there's a large contingent of motorists who lack knowledge of the Highway Traffic Act (and the fact that it gives cyclists the right of use), it's stupid as fuck to have one-sided "reminders".

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    2. Your comment leaves much to be desired in the way of social development and stands as an example of a large portion of the motorist community. This attitude of "I could kill you, therefore get out of my way" is neanderthal. Please learn to think like a rational human being and share the road. Would you run over a granny or a stroller if it was in your way?

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  2. I've seen those sign hundreds of times. I just chalked them up to Wellington Cres. snobbery.

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    Replies
    1. They aren't just posted in Wellington Crescent. They're in Wolseley & numerous other residential areas. They'd be much better to just replace 'em with "share the road" signs.

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  3. Why. On stree5ts where biking is easy, people will start to think they "own" the road. Besides, its not like cars can go onto the sidewalk.

    your comparisons are silly. Motor vehicles are motor vehicles and they need not be reminded that they all share the road.

    Bikes are not only smaller, they are underpowered, most of the time they don't have lights, anyone can ride a bike regardless of skill level, most people are listening to music and don't necessarily hear vehicles. Parents are teaching kids to ride on the street. Older people are getting on bikes for the first time in decades. There are all kinds of potential problems.

    So a reminder on a street that may have heavy bike use isn't that out of line.Don't forget, this is a street that shuts down to vehicles. People are habitual by nature. If they bike ride on sundays when there are no cars, they can think the street has no vehicular traffic at any time.

    Besides, whats the big deal. not like we've banned you , yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure, go around ticketing cyclists just for being on the road. Thats the answer! Oh, but don't forget to ticket all the pedestrians too, and the mopeds. Ah, fuck hey? Might as well just ticket all the blacks, hispanics and jews too?

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    2. The oppression of visible minorities is NOTHING like what's being talked about here. Please stop using our histories of colonialisation, genocide, and violence as an anecdotal talking point for what is essentially a leisure/transportation complaint. Yes vehicles should be made more aware of cyclists, but the two are not comparable and the fact that you threw it in just makes clear how privileged you are. Our pain is not your pain.

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  4. "Why. On stree5ts where biking is easy, people will start to think they "own" the road. Besides, its not like cars can go onto the sidewalk." - Anonymous6 January, 2013 11:34 PM

    Bicycles aren't allowed on the sidewalks either (& contravention of the law results in injured pedestrians & cyclists injured/killed crossing intersections). How, exactly, do cyclists act as though they "own" the Road?

    your comparisons are silly. Motor vehicles are motor vehicles and they need not be reminded that they all share the road." - Anonymous6 January, 2013 11:34 PM

    The initial anonymous (who may or may not be you) said that cyclists need to be reminded of automobile's rights to the road because they're "smaller". The "silly comparison" was a refutation of that silly claim.

    "Bikes are not only smaller, they are underpowered, most of the time they don't have lights, anyone can ride a bike regardless of skill level, most people are listening to music and don't necessarily hear vehicles. Parents are teaching kids to ride on the street. Older people are getting on bikes for the first time in decades. There are all kinds of potential problems."

    Lights are required half an hour before sunfall and half an hour after sunrise. If there's problems with bicyclists failing to obey the law with regards to lights, then the law should be enforced. Reminding bicyclists that "Vehicle traffic has a right to use the street" does not solve that problem. Bicyclists, likewise, aren't allowed to use headphones, so, again, enforcement (not "vehicle traffic has a right to use the road") is the solution. And, while we're at it, let's deal with motorists who don't pay attention to the road due to screaming music or text & driving.

    Elderly people can still be injured walking or falling. Rates of accidents for pedestrians and cyclists are comparable, after all.

    "So a reminder on a street that may have heavy bike use isn't that out of line.Don't forget, this is a street that shuts down to vehicles. People are habitual by nature. If they bike ride on sundays when there are no cars, they can think the street has no vehicular traffic at any time. " - Anonymous6 January, 2013 11:34 PM

    Simply stating that "automobiles can use this road from _______ to ________" solves the problem, less condescendingly, than "Reminder cyclists ...".

    "Besides, whats the big deal. not like we've banned you , yet." - Anonymous6 January, 2013 11:34 PM

    If the anti-bike lobby ever banned cyclists, it would be a "jump the shark" moment for Winnipeg. My only hope is that any fuck-witted municipal administration that thinks it could get away with that would have their asses sued off.

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  5. Simply stating that "automobiles can use this road from _______ to ________" solves the problem, less condescendingly, than "Reminder cyclists ...".



    SO then you agree, a sign would be required. Only one that doesn't insult you, but a sign nonetheless.

    Argument concluded.

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  6. Bicyclists need to start arming themselves. Ignorant drivers may rethink their actions if there is a potential for them to be physically harmed. Bad drivers... stay the hell away from or I will be forced to hurt you.

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    1. That's way too NRA (as well as illegal) for my tastes. But bicyclists should certainly consider filming and reporting some of the more egregious motorists.

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    2. A car is a weapon... now I am a weapon!

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