Periodically in the print edition of Toronto Star Wheels, I publish excerpts from this auto racing blog. Ergo, on occasion, I plan to reverse the process and publish some items from my Wheels section Editor's Notebook here. This appeared on Page 2 of Wheels last Saturday:
A couple of days after our first summer Bicycle Issue appeared in the Saturday Star on June 30, I received a letter from a fellow who is obviously not a two-wheel fan.
“Why don’t you write something about how cyclists break the law all the time,” he asked? “About how they always ride the wrong way up one-way streets and how they never stop at stop signs.”
I wrote him back to say that I agree there are some bad bike riders out there. But I also told him that not a day goes by when I don’t seriously consider murdering another car driver as the result of either some serious stupidity or selfishness in which I come close to coming out the loser.
As is the case with cyclists, a few bad apples do not tar every driver — but it sure feels like it sometimes.
I used to consider driving in traffic to be one of the great exercises in human cooperation. Yes, there are traffic signals and directional signs just about everywhere but for everybody to go from Point A to Point B and arrive safely, they have to work together. There has to be give and take — if I want to go there, and signal intentions, then you have to let me do it, and vice-versa.
Unfortunately, more and more, somebody signaling an intention to change lanes results in everybody closing up ranks and refusing to let him/her in.
I ask: what is that about?
My personal favourite these days — as in, the thing that really gets my blood pressure boiling — is when people roll through a stop on a side street to turn right and pull out on the road in front of me. The fact that I then have to step on the brakes to avoid running into them doesn’t seem to faze these jerks one bit.
It’s as if they think, “He sees me, so he won’t hit me.” Well, pal; one of these days I’m going to win the lottery and when that happens, I’m going to drive all over Toronto running into everybody who pulls out in front of me and makes me put on the brakes.
I use part of Lake Shore Blvd. through Mimico and New Toronto when I drive into the city in the morning and I pass any number of cyclists. Just about all of them obey the rules of the road — they ride single-file and keep to the far right and stop at stop signs. There are no bike lanes at that point (there’s one further east near Park Lawn) but the road is wide and sweeping, so there’s room for everybody.
On the other hand, I occasionally have reason to drive north on Bathurst from downtown and that’s where you run into the kamikaze bikers. They ride in the middle of the lane and, if traffic is stopped, whip over and ride against the grain on the other side of the road, and dipsy-doodle around at intersections in order to ride through, and so-on.
But unlike Lake Shore, Bathurst is mostly one lane north and one lane south and there’s parking on both sides and, frankly there’s nowhere for cyclists to ride safely. Hence the anarchy, I think.
Which brings me back to cooperation. If everybody — car drivers, bike riders — would take a deep breath and give the other guy a break, we’d all be the better for it. We’d get to where we are all going almost as fast and we’d get there safely and we wouldn’t all be driving around angry. Wouldn’t that be nice?
If we could all do that, even for a day, then the world would be a better place.
Hey, maybe I won’t even drive around Toronto after I win the lottery and run into everybody who pulls out in front of me.
I’ll leave that to my chauffeur.