Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cyclists - good for the environment, bad for my bloodpressure

Let me tell you a story about the woman who tried to get me to kill her last night on my way home.

There I was, driving across Dundas St. headed East. Just crossing the DVP. There's no marked bike-lane in that stretch. I was coming up on a string of cyclists, one of whom was slower than the rest.

Cyclist behind her looks under his arm, sees I'm a decent distance away still, pulls out and passes her. Next cyclist looks over his shoulder, sees I'm still far enough away for him to pass, and does so.

Next cyclist pulls out directly in front of me. She's doing about 20 km/h... I'm doing 60. I think this woman really wanted to die... no light or strobe on her bike (to allow her to be seen in less-than-optimal lighting conditions), no noise-making device on her bike (to alert people in cars she would have to pass that she was approaching and not to open their door), no helmet (to protect her melon when she inevitably did something stupid enough to get her airborne and/or hitting the road), an unbalanced load (a fairly loaded gym bag slung across her chest and variously on her hip, directly behind her, migrating to the other side, etc.), no shoulder check before swinging out into a live lane of rush-hour traffic, and an iPod.

And behaviours like this illustrate perfectly why so many drivers in Toronto hate cyclists and why an increasing number of people feel they should be either licenced or banned from the core of the city (or at least main arteries).

This morning I saw a guy cycle directly through a major intersection (Bay & Bloor) on a red light. Ok, so it was the tail end of a 'scramble crossing' phase... but he couldn't really have known that as he whipped along the line of stopped traffic. I regularly see cyclists blow through red lights or stop signs, drive the wrong way up one-way streets, cut in front of cars they think are turning, make left-hand turns from the right-hand lane, run up the passenger side of cars that have indicated their intention to turn right but are waiting for a break in pedestrian traffic (and end up nearly hitting or hitting the cyclist who is actually supposed to yeild to a car that has its indicator on that it will be turning in front of the cyclist), cyclists dodging back and forth from street to sidewalk and woe betide the pedestrian who gets in their way....

So I arrive at this conclusion... cyclists are good for the environment... as long as it's not MY environment ;) As a driver, I hate them with a firey passion. As a pedestrian, I hate them with a firey passion.

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