Friday, December 15, 2017

Open Space: Victoria not so bike friendly

October 15, 2014 by David Lynch, contributing writer

I recently migrated to Victoria from Quadra Island and was very excited about the prospect of being able to use my bike for transportation. I’ve visited Victoria a number of times over the years and have noticed a definite increase in bicycle traffic, designated lanes, and friendly road signs that say things like “share the road.” Ah, bicycle bliss is here in Victoria! Or is it?

Well, my feelings of bicycle security and road-sharing tranquillity lasted for three days before the first incident with a driver occurred.

I was slowly riding up the steep hill pulling a bike trailer when a motorist in a rush decided that the road-sharing sign was merely a suggestion (a suggestion she didn’t like), and was to be ignored. She proceeded to race up behind me, honk obnoxiously, and squeeze past me so closely that I had to run my trailer up and onto the curb.

Drivers and cyclists should be able to exist together in harmony (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

 

I remember thinking, “That’s not bicycle friendly,” and nearly saluted the driver with a popular finger gesture, but decided that, as a cyclist, I should also be a goodwill ambassador, so I smiled and let it go.

Jump ahead now a few days. I’m riding my bicycle downtown along Douglas, probably not the best place to ride a bike, but I had an appointment to go to, and I chose to pedal rather than drive.

Then a driver who seemingly considered me a pest on his roadway decided to let me know it by pushing past me close enough to touch me. Then, as he approached the red light 10 feet ahead, he made a point of squeezing as far to the right as possible to prevent me from going past him on the road. Why?

After incident number two I started to notice some repeat behaviours among drivers in this beautiful city, so I began asking fellow riders about their experiences. It seemed each cyclist I asked had had a near-death experience with a driver’s road rage, and they were quick to share their stories.

Upon the final tally of these incidences, it would seem to me that drivers here generally consider cyclists to be a pain in the butt and not worthy of sharing their road.

Now, that being said, I also drive. I understand what it’s like to be in a rush, late for an appointment, hitting every red light along the way, and then, to top it off, being held up by a cyclist on a narrow street. But I would never risk someone’s life for 20 feet of road.

I’m guessing that with more bikes on the roads in Victoria, more clashes between bikes and cars are bound to happen. Perhaps if we all slow down a little and take a second to consider the other person’s perspective, we can all get where we’re going safely, just by truly sharing the road.

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