To the Editor,
Re: Know the rules and share the road, Opinion, Sept. 11.
While I’m sure Chris Bush thought his column on safe cycling practice was sage advice from a seasoned cyclist, it is simply furthering the viewpoint that cyclists are second-class users of the roadways and reinforcing the belief that when cyclists are injured in traffic it is their own fault.
I beg to differ, and, in fact, so does the province as cyclists have the same rights as cars on the road.
I have a couple specific points to bring up:
First, when Bush speaks of the cyclist he almost ran over by turning in front of, he describes the cyclist as being in the wrong.
Actually, he was not in the wrong. It was certainly not a safe position to put himself in, but if Bush had hit him, it would have been his fault, just like if he had turned abruptly in front of a car to his right.
When Bush drove alongside the cyclist, he didn’t disappear. This is a common misconception, but once a cyclist is no longer in your line of sight they don’t cease to exist.
Bush should have remembered that he had just moved alongside a cyclist and looked to see if he was still there (they almost always are).
The safest way for the cyclist to have been riding in that situation would have been to place himself one-third of the way into the lane, thus staying out of the dangerous area next to car doors, and far enough into the lane that inattentive drivers like Bush would notice and not try to turn in front of him.
Second, cyclists are not required to move off the road when cars are near. Cyclists don’t have to ride in the gravel on narrow rural roads if a car comes by.
A car coming upon a cyclist on a road with no shoulder should wait behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass. And safe to pass doesn’t mean squeeze the cyclist off the road while trying to stay on his own side of the yellow line, but pass in a safe manner.
Imagine the cyclist is a large piece of farm machinery moving slowly down the road and treat him the same way. Would you try to squeeze a tractor off the road?
Undoubtedly there are cyclists who ride in unsafe and even illegal manners, and this needs to be addressed. When I was in elementary school the RCMP came by and did safe cycling courses for all the kids, teaching us how to ride safely on the road.
My advice to new cyclists is always to pretend you are an invisible car. Ride like any other vehicle on the road in a predictable manner, using signals.
I hope Bush continues to cycle in the city and gains some experience on the roads. The more people there are cycling the more accustomed drivers become to seeing them and driving safely around them.