The Thing About Bikes
It's always cars vs. cyclists. Cyclists are assholes and drivers kill.
Cars vs. Cyclists
There is a lot of hate between cyclists and motorists. I've experienced it. It's raw.
To some extent, I believe many cyclists are assholes. They don't obey the traffic laws, bike on the sidewalk, and squeeze in between cars.
Drivers are worse. Drivers sometimes forget there are cyclists on the road. They're impatient and think they own the road when it's really meant to be shared.
As a cyclist in a big city I see a lot of anger, danger, and inefficiencies. I see too much traffic. I see horrible biking conditions. But most of all, I see too much animosity between bikers and drivers.
1. I believe most of the problem stems from not enough separation.
City planners often don't include bike lanes. How can you improve the traffic condition when you're not supporting people who reduce traffic? I think buses help but even buses and streetcars still create lots of congestion. Bikes are the most efficient and cheapest form of city transport.
2. There's a lack of police enforcement.
Even when you have bike lanes, they're often abused by cars.
Bike lanes don't do much good if the police don't enforce them. Toronto has a big problem because the police do not give many tickets. In California, my mom was ticketed by police for stopping past the line during a red light. She drove into the bike lane 200 feet before the right turn and got a ticket for driving in the bike lane. They should enforce laws like that here because so many times cars stop in the middle of the street during a red light, then pedestrians walk in front, then cars can't move, then cross traffic is blocked -- it's a mess. The police need to prevent drivers from thinking it's okay to block traffic.
3. Drivers are mean, distracted, and dangerous.
Drivers get road rage. Drivers use phones when they're not supposed to. But what really get to me is people die because of bad drivers. People die crossing the street. Cyclists die on the road. If we could reduce traffic and separate cars, bikes, and people better, I think drivers would be less frustrated and be less dangerous to pedestrians.
I've been hit by a car 2 times in my life. One of which, the driver (in Toronto) sped off without stopping. I've had a relative who was walking and killed by a driver. Cars are dangers and should be better separated from people.
4. Bikers are assholes at times.
I understand drivers and pedestrians think bikers are assholes. Even as a biker sometimes I think other bikers are being over-the-top. Sometimes I may behave like an asshole. But there are reasons for this I believe.
Many times following the rules will get you killed and if not killed, extremely frustrated. Pro-bikers take evasive action and do things that aren't strictly legal. Inexperienced and scared bikers bike on the sidewalk (which is be legal in some places but not in others).
I know why I get extremely upset with drivers. Not only will they almost kill you, but when you warn them they're killing you, they give you the finger and swear at you. That's just infuriatingly horrible. That's what gets me.
Bikers who are wronged by drivers want to retaliate. No one likes injustice and being threatened with death day in and day out. There's a old Chinese saying, even a rabbit will bite when cornered. Add that to the fact police don't really give bikers tickets, you get a lot of bikers acting out. There's also the possibility since bikers don't go through any formal testing or require a license, you have a lot of people who just don't know any better. Since there are no bicycle licenses, bikers can do whatever they want and still be able to get on a bike again. Bad drivers on the other hand can get their license revoked. In short, everyone can get on a bike and is considered a biker.
What to do
People complain about traffic, but the answer isn't to introduce more roads for cars. I think it's to reduce roads for cars and encourage more cycling, ride sharing, car-sharing, public transit, and walking. I love pedestrian only paths. It's quaint and safe.
1. More, better bike lanes.
I love bike lanes because they separate people who can't share and hate each other. It prevents problems from arising. The number one reason people give for why they don't bike is because of safety. They feel scared. Dedicated bike lanes for cyclists will encourage biking. 78% of Ontarians believe this.
Better bike lanes are vital because a poorly designed bike lane can be problematic and dangerous. For example, bike lanes that don't have dividers or make it hard for street cleaners clear the glass there.
Protected Intersections For Bicyclists from Nick Falbo on Vimeo.
Here's a quick look at who's doing it right:
NYC's First Bike-Parking Protected, Protected Bike Lane! from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.
2. Better police enforcement and role models.
I think if police issued more tickets, it would reduce number of cyclists and drivers committing traffic violations. People learn when they're fined. City gets more money. It's easier to catch cyclists on a bicycle, so police should bike more.
Police on bikes will scare drivers who are habitually abusive to bikers. This will also promote biking as a safe activity. Don't forget it's cheaper for the government and healthier for police officers.
16 to 1.
Cities will be less congested if more people biked. You can park 16 bikes or 1 car in the same space. It will be much better for traffic and parking.
City bike sharing is everywhere. I see a gap that subscription services such as Rdio and Bixi bikes fill and know many people using them. I don't use Bixi for a variety of reasons (link) but many of my friends really like the service.
Safer as more people bike.
The more bikers out there, the safer it is. People will realise it's unsafe to throw open their car doors or just keep it open. Drivers will realise there's a reason why they must check the bike lane before right turns. Drivers will be more alert for cyclists, and cyclists will feel more confident in numbers.
Healthier, cheaper, and more reliable.
I'm never late on a bike. I conveniently bike up to where I need to be and lock my bike minutes away. I don't think it gets better than that. Biking is way more reliable and punctual than public transit or driving because you'll almost never have traffic. You can get anywhere to anywhere else in the city in about 30 mins.
People are surprised that you can bike in winter. You can. The roads are no more slipperier than then when it rains. In fact, in most cities roads are much better to ride on than sidewalks because they're cleared and salted daily. You can always bike slower.
Let's encourage people to bike more by making it safe and convenient. You can reduce congestion, pollution, improve health, save money, and kill less people.
Source: Wallpapers Wide
- About me -
I'm a cyclist and product manager in Toronto. Currently, I'm working on a to-do app that you'll actually want to use. Get notified to try it out here.