Kamloops Daily News, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009
I love cyclists. Honest.
Some of my best friends are cyclists. I’ve never had the urge to run over any of them with my truck.
My wife Syd is a cyclist. I love her dearly, and I’ve never had the urge to run her over, either.
And I definitely do not now, nor have I ever, wished to run over Mr. Idiot.
This is why some of the reaction to my recent column about driving in Kamloops — including some blog comments and a couple of letters to the editor — has been instructive. One might think, if you didn’t know me, that I’m a highway terrorist, using my old pickup like an IED to strike fear into any cyclist I come across, to deprive their families of their breadwinners.
No. I didn’t just arrive from another planet. I understand and admire the fact cyclists are out there keeping fit and helping the environment. I view them with respect, and I treat them that way. Most cyclists understand common courtesy, have a general knowledge of the rules of the road, and harbour a healthy sense of self-preservation.
Others, though, should find some other form of exercise, something where they don’t come in contact with other human beings.
This will be a shock to a few of those who’ve let me know what they think of me. But, is it just possible that sometimes a cyclist is at fault?
I’m still doing some research based on one letter to the editor that suggested I need a lesson in the Motor Vehicles Act. From what that person indicated, I’m pretty sure there’s a section in there that says something like this:
“a) the operator of a bicycle may, at his or her convenience or whim, ride in the wrong lane, and all oncoming motor vehicle traffic shall drive off the road if necessary to avoid collision.
“b) should an accident occur, all fault will belong to the driver of said motor vehicle.”
Don’t get me wrong; I can understand the concerns of the cyclists. According to Freakonomics, a study in Toronto showed that out of 2,752 crashes between cars and bikes, 90 per cent were caused by motorists doing dumb stuff like running stop signs, turning into the cyclist’s path, or opening a car door.
On the other hand, the 10 per cent caused by cyclists likely had to do with them not paying attention, assuming a right of entitlement to the roadway, or simply ignoring the rules of the road.
This at least partially explains the pandemic road rage that exists between cyclists and motorists. A good place to start in trying to do something about it would be for everyone to acknowledge there are stupid people who do stupid things on the roads, no matter what their mode of transportation (and this includes pedestrians, by the way).
Clearly, something has to be done about this war. I did a little Googling, and came across some of the things cyclists and motorists do to each other. I’ll list five apiece, to keep it even Steven.
What cyclists do to bug motorists:
1. “Cycling in the middle of the road so they can’t get past us.
2. “Leaning on their car while they are waiting at a traffic light.
3. “Cycling two (or three, or four) abreast.
4. “Skipping a red light — while the poor motorist is sitting there waiting for the light, just bomb straight by him.
5. “Cycling slowly when there is no room for them to overtake you. They must love it.”
1. “The Rude Right — Turning right at an intersection in front of a cyclist traveling the same direction.
2. “The Close Shave — Cutting dangerously close to a cyclist. Some cars deliberately try to intimidate cyclists with the ‘close shave.’
3. “The Loony Left — Turning left at an intersection in front of a cyclist traveling the opposite direction.
4. “The Bike Blockade — Parking in the bike lane.
5. “The Hail Mary — Attempting to pass a cyclist when the visibility of the road ahead is poor.”
We’re all guilty of carelessness once in awhile, but let’s not be guilty of purposeful and dangerous acts of hostility.
Just as I ask not to be judged by the stupidity of other drivers, I don’t judge all cyclists by the actions of one so-and-so. In the spirit of reciprocity, I’m willing to give Mr. Idiot the benefit of the doubt — I would like to believe he was just stressed because his Spandex was giving him a wedgy.
Maybe, on another day, he would have acted un-idiot like. So, I will do my best to stop calling him names in my sleep.
I hereby change his name to Mr. Having A Bad Day. Peace out.