In this blog the topic of urban/lifestyle cycling is explored in the wider context of city planning & design, sustainability, local economics, environment, health, recreation and broader topics in transportation.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Add cycling to learning cycle
Columnist Bob Groeneveld writes about cycling in the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Times:
JULY 29, 2013
Add cycling to learning cycle
Practically every day I see cyclists pedalling along the highways and byways that take me from home to work and back.
Practically every day I see them breaking the rules of the road - in fact, it's rare that I don't have a cyclist in my line of sight for more than 20 or 30 seconds without witnessing the shattering of one traffic law or another.
Practically every day I see stupid motorists nearly fulfilling a cyclist's apparent ambition to see tomorrow from a hospital bed - or not see tomorrow at all. And I think to myself... "More people should ride bicycles."
In fact, I wish more people would spend more time riding bikes before ever getting behind the wheel of a car, as opposed to under one - which happens far too often, as things currently stand.
I'm not a sadist, and I'm not hoping I can snap a gory photo of a mangled cyclist to fill a corner of the newspaper.
And it has nothing to do with my basic belief that the world would be a better place with fewer people in it (provided, of course, that I'm one of those "fewer people").
On the contrary, I believe that if there were more people riding bicycles to and fro, there would be less carnage in the long run.
Potential motor vehicle drivers should be required to spend a couple hundred hours on a bicycle before applying for a learner's licence.
And it shouldn't be just some recreational riding around a quiet neighbourhood, around the local park a few times, or mountain biking along some backwoods trails.
More cyclists rolling along with traffic (not against traffic, like pedestrians... which they are not - probably the most common Motor Vehicle Act transgression perpetrated by cyclists) would create a "safety in numbers" scenario. Motorists would be more aware of cyclists in their midst, because there would be more cyclists to remind them to pay attention.
Motorists would also gain from the experience of having ridden a bicycle amongst idiot drivers who eat, drink, comb their hair, fix their makeup, and otherwise occupy themselves with endangering the lives of the people around them.
You cannot truly understand the concept of "defensive driving" until you've ridden a bicycle alongside the stupidest, most oblivious creatures populating the face of the earth: the texting driver (followed closely by the cellphone-addicted driver - and don't give me that "hands-free" nonsense, as studies clearly show that hands-free cellphone use, while not illegal, is equally as dangerous as using hand-held devices).
And having had the benefit of experiencing the stupidity of the average steel-enclosed motorist first-hand from the vantage point of a bicycle seat, the newly licensed driver is less likely to want to become one of those average idiots.
Understanding would also flow both ways, as more and more cyclists become motorists - and they begin to teach their children how to ride safely, instead of actually teaching them dangerous behaviour.
It is disconcerting in the extreme to see young cyclists follow their parents straight through stop signs and red lights, and passing lines of slow traffic on the right, sneaking up on the unsuspecting guy who doesn't realize it has suddenly become dangerous to make his right turn. Parents on bicycles lead their kids along sidewalks, putting pedestrians at risk and creating the danger of uncertainty in the minds of motorists who, faced with such unruly behaviour, can't know what the next move will be.
They lead their kids against traffic lights through crosswalks where they have no business being.