The relationship between car drivers and cyclists is… complicated. Upon returning to the Greater Toronto Area, I’ve had the opportunity to escape the day and ride out into the countryside. Ahhhhhhhh, its peaceful, the roads roll over the farmland and you can catch your thoughts. Return back to the city limits, and you better be alert or you may be caught in a hard spot. Yet, no matter how many espresso energy gels you shoot back, you’re often left yelling at vehicles as they whip by, just inches from clipping you.
Sadly, these events happen a lot, majority of time it ends with the cyclists sprinting after the car to no avail, or throwing water bottles at the passing car. However, a seemingly close call can turn devastating; road rash, broken bones, a trip to the hospital… coma… death?
Ellen Watters, 28, a rising Canadian cycling star from New Brunswick (N.B.), sustained devastating injures while on a training ride near Sussex, N.B., December 23rd 2016. Ellen was not only a rising star, but was an advocate for better laws to protect cyclists. Following her death, the community orchestrated a campaign to make the one-metre rule a law for motorists in N.B. Currently, the call for the one-metre rule to be implemented is receiving its first legislative reading and is expected to be enacted by June 1st, 2017. If passed N.B. will join Ontario & Quebec, to have a one-metre rule, protecting cyclists.
But, is it enough, seriously?
I rarely (never) see officers enforcing this rule; watching how close vehicles come to cyclists. How can the government policy makers protect pedestrians (i.e. cyclists), reducing the likelihood of injury? I feel having government policy makers and cycling clubs meet together, is good starting point. The clubs can offer data showing which roads are typical for cyclists in the area. This data can then be used to incorporate better protection for cyclists (i.e. bike lanes, or wider road shoulders). Additionally, it is an all too often occurrence to be riding on a bike path, then all of the sudden it will end, throwing you into traffic. Or, you’ll be driving through an area and notice bike lanes… when really no one would ever dream of riding there. Therefore, these bike paths/lanes need to be implemented better.
Of course it is a two way street. It’s very easy, being a cyclist to “trash” drivers. However, cyclists need to respect drivers, as well as the rules of the road. There’s not much more to say to that. If we’re (cyclists) to ride on roads, we must respect the rules of the road.
What can we do in the mean time; advocate for greater public awareness, include cycling paths into road redo’s, implementation of bike lanes, the use of bike lights, even bike bells/alarms…?
Come 2020, in New York there will be a 750-mile long path for pedestrians/cyclists, completely isolated from motorists. The path will stretch from Manhattan to Northern New York, across to Albany and Buffalo. Personally, I believe this is a step in the right direction. Government’s should additionally be placing designated bike lanes on the surrounding roads, allowing cyclists/pedestrians to get to these bike paths safely.
This piece is a personal opinion. I’m very aware of both sides of the story. I simply write this to advocate for greater awareness for cyclists, but also to call fellow cyclists to be safe.
Empire State Trail
Ellen Watters & One-Metre Rule