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May 18, 2010

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moof

Saturday: two cyclists riding on a busy 80km/h road with a clean paved shoulder at least a metre wide. Where were they? Hugging the white line. (BTW: I ride, I'm sympathetic to cyclists, but not idiots).

Avid Cyclist

Kenzie, as a long time fan of your road going advocacy, I am surprised by this blog post - in my eyes, it's an epic failure.

Not only for your use of sketchy rhetorical tools (probably... anyway) which devalues your normally well-informed voice, but also because your senseless comments go against so much of what you've advocated over the years with respect to safely passing slower traffic and generally good road manners.

You think that it is farcical to propose a law that mandates safe passing distances for cyclists being overtaken by faster vehicles. Do you oppose a law that obliges motorists to slow down and (actually) change lanes when police and emergency workers are on the side of the road? How are the two cases different? Is it because emergency workers might actually enforce their law when they see a driver breaking it?

As a long time cyclist, I know that many drivers already leave ample space when passing cyclists, and tend to do so in a safe and courteous manner. But I've also felt the grip of 'Bernoulli's Pull' at times when I've been passed too close and too quickly by busses, and (God forbid) felt myself sucked into the gap between double-trailers.

The effect of this proposed law does not have to be the inconvenience of a few, already selfish and unsafe drivers. It could be this law sets mandates for how many feet of shoulder must be paved, in order to safely separate cylists from traffic.

That's a move that will prevent tragedies like the ones that happened this past weekend in Quebec.

Gord Irish

I don't know that the proposed legislation really would change much. The issue is already covered under the HTA sections 148.1-7. The HTA says 'allow sufficient distance to avoid a collision' not specifically 1 metre (or whatever). That really makes no difference, the issue will only come up when a collision occurs, the 1 metre separation doesn't really make any difference then, 0 metres separation is clearly not sufficient.

It is somewhat funny how that HTA section still refers to equestrians and bicycles together, it is perhaps one of the older sections of the HTA?

The private members bill amounts to little significant change but it does make for some nice grandstanding for a downtown NDP MP.

Ken Mahy

Let me start by indicating that I am in my mid-50s and own a bike which I ride as much as possible for moderate distances on roads that I consider reasonably safe for cycling (yes, I wear a helmet). I have also been driving for about 40 years, much of it within the City of Toronto (post-1998 version) so I've witnessed a considerable increase in volume and gridlock on our roadways. Even the past 10 years have seen my modest daily commute across the 401 go from an average of 16 minutes to 25 minutes door-to-door.

It seems to me that there are several elements that need to be addressed before we start can start specifying minimum distances between motorized vehicles and bicycles.

First and foremost, we have many different types of roads in this province, all the way from cul-de-sacs to superhighways. We do not allow cyclists or pedestrians on limited access highways such as the 401, 400, DVP, QEW (I omit the 407 as I have a problem with legalized extortion) - for obvious safety-related reasons. Posted speeds on these routes are too fast for other vehicles with a top speed of 25 or 30 kph to safely share the pavement - and for pedestrians (or hitchhikers) to be anywhere nearby.

Undivided highways and urban roads can vary considerably in lane width. And on rural roads, another consideration is the type paved or gravel) and width or shoulders.

If we want to create laws that require motorists to maintain specified distances between their vehicles and cyclists, we must either create roadways on which this can be done safely or ban cyclists from roadways where this is not possible (cue the catcalls from freedom-loving cyclists everywhere).

In my view, a "safe cycling route" needs to have paved shoulders (or bike lanes) at least 60 cm in width (2 feet for those who still fly the Union Jack over their homes). This would allow motorized vehicles to stay 3 feet away from cyclists at all times - which in my view is a safe distance - without veering into oncoming traffic or adjoining lanes.

I believe that all of our collector roads, arterial roads and undivided highways should be rebuilt to these standards over time so that cyclists can ride safely wherever they need to go. This will encourage more people to cycle which will reduce both gridlock in our cities and the environmental impact of motorized vehicles both locally and globally.

In the intervening 20 to 30 years, we will clearly have to accept some compromises - one of which is to allow cyclists to continue using our roads under current conditions but exercising appropriate caution and accepting the level of risk that this entails. Provision of more paved shoulders on selected bike-friendly rural highways should begin immediately.

And if we legislate anything to improve the relationship between motorists and cyclists, it should to double speeding fines for motorists who speed past cyclists - just as we do when construction workers are present. That's the kind of enforcement of speed laws that I could get behind!


William S. Higgins

Hey Jim,

I’m both an automobile enthusiast and an avid cyclist. I have read and enjoyed your columns, articles and rants for many years and I believe this is the first time I’ve disagreed with you. Strongly. You are dead wrong.

The most dangerous thing about cycling is attitudes like yours. Cyclists are entitled to use the road. Unless thing have changed in the last few minutes, bicycles are only ban from limited access highways. That we need to legislate common sense and simple courtesy for cyclist to safely ride on the rest shows how prevalent you attitude is among Ontario drivers.

As an automobile enthusiast I always give more room to cyclists than Ms DiNovo asks. As an avid cyclist I demand it.

If slow moving and inconvenient are criteria for banning types of vehicles let’s start with gravel trucks. Not only do they beat up the hood of my car but they get in the way when I'm cycling.

W.S. Higgins

Greg H

I just returned from Texas and during this trip, I drove around Austin a bit. What I noticed there was that many roads had a specific lane marked to allow a cyclist to use the entire lane. Of course, this was only done on multi-lane roads, so the cars still had the option to change lanes and pass the bike. Everyone I saw seemed to be on board with it, and there weren't any close calls for cyclists. Granted, Austin's climate is more accommodating than Toronto on a whole-year basis.

Here in Vancouver we have a couple of bridges that have a single lane marked "bikes only". It was really the only safe way to have cyclists crossing these heavily traveled bridges.

Brian

I heard Ms. DiNovo interviewed on the radio the other day. Her proposed legislation is already being used in many provinces and states. However it needs some clarification. The provision about distance should be amended with "when there is no designated bicycle lane present".

Then again, most bike lanes I see now are right beside the traffic lanes. I.e. Less than a metre away. So are they not safe enough?

George Papaandreaus

"Why should their risk-taking impinge on the rest of us?"

Because anyone who uses a motor vehicle is responsible for creating a higher risk of death and dismemberment to everyone else?

Sara

"This law would force motorists to swerve into adjacent lanes"
No, it wouldn't. This law would force motorists to wait until it is safe to pass...which they should be doing anyway.
It's more than a little disconcerting that someone writing a column called "The Driver's Seat" doesn't understand the current Highway Traffic Act.
"But it does show that cyclists really don't understand how dangerous what they do is."
Your column shows that car drivers really don't understand how dangerous what they do is. How many drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians were killed in Ontario last year by motor vehicle collisions? (I'll give you some time to count it up.) Okay, now how many drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians were killed in Ontario last year by cyclist or pedestrian collisions? (You'll only need the fingers of one hand to count on.)
Roads will be safer when speed limits are reduced and we all know the rules. I'll bike predictably and lawfully and you'll wait to pass until it is safe for everyone around to do so...deal?

J B Bell

Actually, it would not "force drivers into the opposing lane." It would behoove drivers to slow down. Why do so many people act like slowing down for a little bit is tantamount to killing babies? Don't you change lanes, or wait, to pass motor vehicles every single day?

Tod Brown

A few things you seem not to have noticed in your 25 years of automotive journalism:

When one motor vehicle passes another on a two-lane, undivided highway, it has to move *entirely* into the other lane to do it. That applies even when it's slow-moving farm equipment, or a tractor-trailer unit whose driver has missed a shift going up a hill.

Whenever a stiff wind blows across a highway, flimsy things like SUV's and tractor-trailer units wind up on their sides in the ditch.

People who drive (something other than a desk) can even tell how far they are from other objects on the road by sight, not Braille. How do you keep your vehicle between the lines on the road?

Urban

"swerve into adjacent lanes causing more collisions"?

Doesn't anyone know how to drive?

Why don't you just pass in an adjacent lane and not cause more collisions? That's how I overtake other vehicles on the road.

Do you think you can do that? Why not?

JR Michigan

No, this law wouldn't force motorists to swerve into oncoming traffic. It would force them to pass in a safe manner, which they're already obligated to do. If there's oncoming traffic, the overtaking vehicle is obligated to wait behind the traffic in front until it's safe to pass.
This is no different than it is right now, and 3 feet is about the right distance. It's just giving a number. Without a number, there's no way to define whether a car passed too close. 5 millimeters away? Well, a miss is as good as a mile, right?

There are many cyclists who ride day in and day out on 50 to 70 MPH roads, and have been for years or decades without issue. All we're asking for is the same right to the road (that we pay for as much as anyone) as everyone else enjoys.

Mike T.

Rather than leave this as part of your legacy Jim, you should really consider removing it entirely. It's got to be the worst piece you've ever written. As a driver, cyclist and a human being I find it not worthy of a reply.

Rob Egly

Jim. It's not some kind of extreme, risk-taking sport. Riding is just how I get from point A to point B.


When I am driving a car, I slow down until it is safe to pass, giving enough room to any vehicle, including bikes.

Doug

Cycling isn't especially dangerous, it's the drivers who just CAN'T for FIVE SECONDS impede their right to be somewhere as fast as they can legally or illegally get there.

A passing truck can blow a Smart Car into the ditch if the driver isn't paying attention. They're still legal, eh?

If smokers and overeaters and those who never exercise have the right to our health care system, then those of us who cycle (using NO fuel, getting exercise and taking barely any space on the road) certainly expect support from the government and the healthcare system.

Where should we ride, Jim? On the sidewalk? That's illegal and bothers me to see other cyclists do it. What about where there are no bike lanes? Are we to rely on kind folks like yourself to ferry us over the nasty, mean highways?

Have you ever cycled, Jim? If not, then maybe you have had your head stuck under the hood for too long.

Friedemann Brauer

In the context of the rules of the road, it is irrelevant which vehicles the author considers to be "flimsy"; maybe he thinks that of certain cars, too--it's a personal opinion. What matters on the road is that bicycles are vehicles according to the law. In fact, many motorists already pass cyclists at the safe distances recommended. When it is not safe to pass another vehicle, a driver simply has to wait until the traffic allows it. The new regulation would remind motorists not to pass cyclists too close at higher speeds. This, and the distances given for the various speeds seem very sensible to me.

Evan Rosamond

Mr Kenzie, you are the one who needs to get a grip. Specifically, you need to grab on to some facts.
The risk-taking of motorists has much greater consequences then that of cyclists. This is because of the weight and power of motor vehicles. Also, drivers' risk-taking impinges on just about everybody. In a city like Toronto, pedestrians are about 10 times as likely to be killed in traffic accidents as cyclists are. Car passengers die even more often than pedestrians. You don't seem to understand how dangerous driving is.
Please explain how defining a safe passing distance can be an impingement to motorists. I don't believe you'd get much closer than 3 feet from a school bus or a cement mixer.
Regarding curb feelers, it seems to me that if a driver doesn't know where his vehicle is on the road, he is incompetant and should not be on the road at all.
For your information, 3 ft is 0.9 m, 4 ft is 1.2 m, and 5 ft is 1.5 m. Did you skip grade 9 or what?

Neil Snider

"But it does show that cyclists really don't understand how dangerous what they do is."

Actually Jim, all this column shows is how out of touch and irrelevant you have become. You obviously haven't ridden a bike in years (it would do you some good). I'm pretty sure the greatest good for the greatest number would entail getting more cars off the road and more people on bikes.

This is common sense legislation, that you can't see that is quite sad. And, if you cagers can't handle the lane changes it's probably time to hang up the keys.

Actually Jim, it's time you got yourself a white belt, some white shoes and a golf cart and shuffled off down to Fort Meyers. More your speed me thinks.

Bye.

Mike

This law is required because of drivers like you who see nothing wrong with "buzzing" cyclists.

Cyclists (for the most part) understand how dangerous it is to ride on Ontario roads and know where the blame lies. Educating motorists hasn't worked so now we need legislation. I'd personally have added "fines/penalties are doubled in the presence of cyclists" (like we do with construction workers) to the bill.

Also if you have to swerve into oncoming traffic to maintain the 3 foot distance, maybe you this is a good indication you should wait to pass till it is safe. Avoiding "being the meat in the sandwich" is a basic lesson in safe driving courses -- something you should know and advocate.

Andy

The fallacy with your logic is that drivers are not supposed to pass unless it's safe to do so, in any situation. A driver shouldn't need to endanger oncoming traffic by passing a cyclist (or road crew, or moose, or parked vehicle) unless they can do so safely. Are you really in such a rush that waiting 5 seconds would ruin your day?

Mike

Wow, really? I mean...REALLY? You believe that cycling is a bad thing and that cyclists essentially deserve to be hit by cars? How do you feel about crosswalks? How about red lights? Stop signs? I mean, these things get in the way of "comfortable driving"...perhaps the traffic act should be amended to remove these irritants from the road as well.

I have a better suggestion to everyone who thinks that a 3 ft law would require you to swerve into other lanes: PAY ATTENTION. If there is a slow moving tractor in front of you in your lane, do you suddenly swerve into the car beside you, or do you slow down and wait for an opportunity to pass? When there is a "Sunday Driver" on a country road doing 60 km/h in an 80 km/h zone, do you slam into the back of them? Do you swerve into oncoming traffic? No, most people will slow down, ride their bumper, and pass as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so. A bicycle has a lot in common with a Sunday Driver or a tractor, except for the protection offered by a hulking mass of metal.

You call cycling "risk-taking", well...I call it a lot of other things: "Safe" when other vehicles respect me, "fun", "green", "afoordable", "challenging", "relaxing", "healthy".

Kent Harrison

Mr. K: Surely you cannot be serious. Surely you do not truly believe that paved roads are for the exclusive use of automobiles. Surely you cannot condemn the cyclists for the heresy of having the gall to even contemplate riding their insidious unbalanced vehicles on YOUR roads. Surely you would not knowingly berate and belittle the cyclists and their oh so very few supporters. Would you?

Life contains many variations on themes, Mr. K. and therefore also dictates much compromise. In our world (perhaps not yours, but generally, in ours) there are several forms of transportation and recreation. Clearly not each form has the political clout to be able to justify it's very own pathway, and we therefore must share. Good drivers are always able to either slow down behind bikes, farm vehicles pulling hay wagons, kids on skateboards, humans walking dogs, well, I'm sure you get the point, and navigate safely around them. How many times have you run over/into one of the above? Me neither. Not once. Never. Not going to happen, because as the larger, quicker, and potentially more dangerous vehicle I accept the responsibility of negotiating obstacles sharing the roadways.

Most bike riders and farm vehicle drivers, etc. are very safe and courteous, as are a few car drivers (very few, actually, but that is another argument). Let's stop the nonsense and realize that we are all here to enjoy and not get our proverbial knickers knotted knowing that there are slower folks on the road and we just have to deal with it.

K? Paying attention and learning how to drive properly go such a long way towards everyone's safety and happiness.


4 season cyclist

Jim it's a pity you have little understanding of the moral responsibility that comes with operating tons of machinery, at speed, in a public space. The attitude you describe should be kept on the race track or, at least, on controlled access highways where you won't encounter legitimate vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

I both drive and cycle, and I can tell you that if you look down the road the way a skilled driver does, instead of at your hood ornament or blackberry, there's never a need to 'swerve' into the other lane to pass a cyclist at a safe distance. There's also a level of driver courtesy that rises above the 'intimidation with a deadly weapon' approach to interacting with other legitimate road users.

If driver training taught, and courts enforced, a level of responsibility that would actually reduce the level of mayhem, deaths and maimings on our roadways, motorists who behave the way you imply would soon find themselves in the back of the cab, taking the bus, or dare I say, riding a bicycle.

The wind from passing vehicles blowing bicycles over is, I believe, largely a myth except in extreme situations. The danger is much more from drivers who create a situation where a slight error in judgement from either operator can lead to death. The other aspect of this are the threats, both deliberate and unintended, from from drivers who think passing within a few inches at speed is the way to go.

Oh, and for any driver who doesn't have an accurate sense of the distance between their vehicle and other people's children whom they're passing, there are remedial driving programs available.

Mark B

Why is this risky? I really would like your take on that, because I know the true answer.

The TRUE answer is that self-important, 'entitled' people who believe they own the road because they have a two-ton contraption that runs on fossil fuels at insane speeds, absolutely MUST use every last bit of performance capacity of that machine. ANYONE, in their estimation, who chooses another form of transport is a lesser individual who deserves NO consideration in life.

MOTORISTS -- GET A GRIP ON SOMETHING OTHER THAN YOUR GAS PEDALS!

dylan

Why should your inability to pass safely impinge on the rest of us?

You aren't mandated to pass at exactly 3ft; that's a minimum safe distance, and is barely adequate for folks like yourself that can't judge distances.

Why are you passing anyone or anything if it causes collisions with oncoming traffic? You are never forced to pass anything.

From your own words, you can't judge distances well enough to safely pass another vehicle and you feel obligated to pass without regard to oncoming traffic. Yet somehow cyclists are the danger. Can you file my comment under "incompetent" and "illogical" and maybe "pet peeves" as well?

dylan

Tony

Jeepers, Jim -- I don't know what cyclists you were talking to ("Cyclists say they need this protection, especially at higher speeds when the wind from passing cars can blow them right off their bikes."), but I've been riding most of my life and I can't remember even being blown off my bike, even when passed by transport trucks.

The issue here is defining a safe passing distance -- and frankly, it's more an education measure than anything else. Do you really believe that a car passing a bike and leaving less than 3 feet (i metre) is safely passing if movnig at anything more than a walking pace? How is stating that in legislation so insane?

Ontario roads are shared by a number of users, including cyclists. Laws and regulations are designed to make it safe for ALL users. If you run into me in a failed attempt to pass me while I'm on my bike, that doesn't make me "insane" -- it makes you an inattentive (read: bad) driver!

As a pedestrian, a cyclist and a (enthusiastic) driver, I think its everybody's obligation to be attentive, courteous and watch out for other road users. Anything less represents risk-taking that impinges the rest of us.

Jason

I don't cycle in Toronto unless it's in a park as I'm too scared to do so on the road. I usually drive a car.

Cyclists have every right to use the road. That's where they belong. If you can't safely pass a bike, don't pass them. Wait until it's safe to do so. You should give them plenty of room as they are entitled to the ENTIRE LANE anyway.

Both the cyclist and car driver should also be responsible enough to stay visible while on the road (car drivers should keep their full headlights on all the time and the cyclist puts on a rear light and headlight with bright clothing, preferably a reflective vest with a helmet). Sharing the road safely is the responsibility of both parties.

Kirill

Jim,

Your driving philosophy reminds me of that employed in countries with barely any traffic enforcement. Let's just go back to the primeval rule of "the heavier vehicle has the right of way". How reasonable would that be! Operators of the smaller, lighter and more vulnerable vehicles will have to be responsible for avoiding being hit by larger and faster ones. I would be curious to hear your take on pedestrian cross-walk and construction zone rules. They all make drivers' lives so difficult.

I commute mostly by driving, while my bike is for pleasure and recreation. I do try to limit my time on the road and stick to the city's vast network of trails because of drivers like yourself. I also understand that there are many cyclists out there who choose to commute on their bikes and believe they should be paid the same respect as any other road user. Inconsiderate road users are found on many different kinds of transport: bicycles, cars, trucks or buses. Majority though is responsible and already complies with the proposed 3-ft passing rule. What this legislation will accomplish if it passes is protecting responsible road users from those who lack common sense.

I find it difficult to imagine that you actually believe any of what you've written in this post. Surely you have kids that share the road with other motorists on daily basis.

Bert Rufenach

I am totalyy disappointed with your story. As a devoted reading fan and owner of one of your favourite rides, I will not read your selfish ill thought auto only opinions ever again. There are 10 US states with a 3 foot law that seem to work fine. In Britain there is a 5 foot law. In Canada there is your Law? Instead you should write a story on how to pass a cycist not only in a safe and responsible manner, but also in a way to protect the cyclist from the impatient drivers behind you or the one that is trying to pass a car from the oncomming traffic that is approaching the cycist. You may not understand this but there are ways to drive in a defensive way to even further protect the cyclist from the drivers with your kind of attitude. When I pass a cycist I often get a thumbs up when I look in my rear view mirror. What have I done different than you? Figure it out.

Chris G

Wow Jim, I truly hope this is not how you feel, and you wrote this to drive traffic (good or bad) to comment on your blog.

After reading your post in the Star I had to ask... should we run over the people walking on the wrong side of the road as well (walking with the traffic), how about roller bladders or those heavy 1000 pound motorized bicycles, Mennonites and their horses, mother's with children in baby carriages they're much more clumsy and hard to handle for a lot of people? Or should we all just drive cars and contribute to obesity... Really?

Lets just be sensible and share the road. In Europe drivers know how to enjoy their cars but also share the road being considerate to cyclists. How about you go over on assignment and see how their more reasonable, considerate and mature philosophy works (mature as in they have more experience). I hope you will do the same in your driving and writing next time.

Simon j

Jim,
I'm a long time fan, an auto enthusiast, and an avid cyclist. I am appaled by your comments, especially in the context of the star printed version of your blog, as your anti-cyclist rambling are accompanied by the photo of the deadly Quebec aftermath.

Where would you suggest that cyclists ride? What are our choices? Car infested 50 zones with stop and go traffic? Or the open backroads where the speed limits are higher? Would you rather drive an f430 down yonge street? Or down 15th sideroad in limehouse?

We have every right to use the road, and I'm not expecting cars to swerve into oncoming lanes. If drivers were looking ahead, instead of switching to Gino vanelli on their iPod, a nice gradual yield is more than enough. I always offer a friendly wave to motorists who give me the space.

Not good Jim. Not good at all.

Luke Ventura

There is NOTHING inherently dangerous about cycling. The majority of Dutch residents bike every day, with NO HELMETS, usually with unhelmeted kids on tow, and they live longer on average than Canadians.

Ace

While Kenzie is a little on the extreme on this one [and yes I do occasionally ride a bicycle] the law treats a bicycle as another vehicle and they have every right to use the road in a lwaful manner.

But why do cyclists flaunt that part about legality to suit their needs - passing along curbs at intersections; failing to stop at traffic signals; no signals made at all; not walking across an intersection; failing to wear helmets [and expecting my tax dollars to pay for their health care...] - riding on the sidewalk - well I might have to agree with that one since bike lanes are not too prevalent in our society it seems.

And my biggest peeve is those riders who feel that their "pack-mentality" is a God-given right to disobey all traffic laws because they have more in their group than you in your car?? Last time I did the math on that one is that the car will likely win if they all blow the signal and get struck by the car. Reference the tragedy recently in Quebec - 6 cyclists hit, three dead, three forever injured in some fashion and a vehicle driver not injured. There may be more, I am sure, to come of that too.
I agree with some of these posts that slowing down your vehicle, and - oh my, what a concept - waiting until the opposing lane is safely clear before passing that other 'vehicle' lawfully on the roadway is the best. The givernment cannot mandate and contyrol all our behavbiour or our good safe common sense.

The word is SHARE the road people. We all want to get somewhere, and do so safely.

G.S.

I live outside the GTA and am tired of the bicycle riders who think they are in a French road race that entitles them to take up the entire lane. This total disregard for the other traffic using the road causing long lines of slow moving trffic) is a hazard to both the rider and the driver. Single file people then we can all get along.

Morty

When it comes to cars, Jim, I normally value your opinion. When it comes to actual driving, though, I really have to question where you're coming from. Cyclists, by law, have as much right to use public roads as cars do. Passing them doesn't require "swerving into oncoming traffic" anymore than passing any other slow moving vehicle does. It simply requires the driver to execute a safe pass. If you can't manage that, _you_ shouldn't be on our roads.

I ride, drive and walk in nearly equal measure. You need to start doing the same.

andy penrose

Jim, I have been reading all your tests, comments and rants since the days of Saturday lunch at Europa Coachworks, and I normally agree with or at least get a chuckle from your writings, but the "get a grip" article left me speechless!
It was always my impression that you advocated the pleasure involved in use of the roadways, but I was shocked at your redneck attitude regarding sharing the road with cyclists.
You disappoint me.

RX7heaven

If "majority rules" then I bet the majority would vote to eliminate taxes but I like paved roads! I commuted by bike for 10 years and would support legislation required to counter the unsafe driving of the very few idiots who think its fun to pass a bike closely. I've had car drivers pass me and then turn right in front of me forcing me to turn too. Please check your mirror before opening your door and Bicyclists should not ride two or three side by side if it impedes motorists. Car drivers should slow down and move over when passing bikes cause it's never a nice day to die!

Greg

The printed version of your article shows a picture of a recent incident in Quebec where a pickup truck rear ended a group of six cyclists. Three died, not one as the caption mentions.

Whether the driver was drunk, talking on a cell phone, tired or reaching for a beverage they obviously were not paying enough attention to their driving. Causing an collision under those circumstances is negligent and careless. If the victim was a child on a street corner the driver would be convicted of the highest possible crime. Only when a cyclist is the victim does anyone consider if the rider was at fault.

Must be the only form of legalized killing left. The laws can't change fast enough to close this loophole and perception.

Mike G

Kenzie, You are way off of the mark on this one. Like it or not bicycles are recognized as vehicles on our roadway. If the roadway is regular width, the only safe way to pass is for overtaking motorists to wait until the oncoming lane is open to execute a pass. As a cyclist, I have been passed many times by a motorist who gives me little space, however they also are gining the oncoming lane of traffic little or no space. More often overtaking vehicles will cross the centreline of the road, forcing the oncoming lane to take evasive action. This has and will continue to cause accidents. I like this proposed members bill, and hope with some education and understanding from guys like you that we can change the way Canadian drivers interact with cyclists. This should increase the safety for all vehicles using the roadways, motorized or not

Matt Keefer

Two words: Bike lanes.

If the posted speed is 80, a bike that can't move faster than 25-30 should not be on it. Just as travelling 50 km/h over the speed limit is a dangerous speed relative to other traffic, travelling 50km/h under is similarly dangerous.

Murray Lumley

Hi: I've read all of the posts on this topic and I like most of them. They are full of common sense with most saying that the solution to "the swerving problem" is to just slow down and wait to pass safely in the passing lane as one would do with any other slow moving vehicle, like a farm machine. I guess it makes me ask why the cyclist is not afforded the same respect as all other vehicles. I was also reminded that cyclists have the right to take a full lane under the Highway Traffic Act, so the person who complained about a group of cyclists taking a full lane is completely misinformed.
While safety and just slowing down have been fully discussed, no-one has mentioned the consequences to driving of the oil peak and the climate catastrophe that is roaring down on us like an eighteen wheeler. It will soon become too expensive to use the automobile for daily commutes. And at the present time gridlock has made driving an absolutely unpleasant experience. The private auto has not been a "freedom vehicle" for some time - and I wish the car advertizers would quit lying in their commercials that show one car on an empty road, beach or woods.
The bicycle is at least a partial solution to all of these problems - for relatively short commutes as well as an incredibly healthy pleasure.

scunny

"But it does show that cyclists really don't understand how dangerous what they do is.

Why should their risk-taking impinge on the rest of us?"

Thank you Mr. Kenzie. You have shown again with this column just how completely deluded your many years as an auto industry shill have left you.

It doesn't have anything to do with democracy, Jim. No matter how many folks agree with you in ignoring the fact that driving risks the lives of motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, mammals, birds, amphibians, etc, your antiquated passion is a threat to all.

The main reason what cyclists do is dangerous is because of what motorists do. Why is this so hard for you to comprehend?

Mike Powell

I agree that this article is a bit over the top. I have driven for 45 years and continue to ride a bike. Both sides of this argument are WRONG. Todays drivers/bike riders equally suck at sharing the road. It definitely appears that neither group has had any education on the rules of the road.

Quite frankly I'm tired of hearing how cyclists pay their share of the costs of the road because they don't. While they may pay property tax, they do not pay taxes for fuel (which by the way was implemented solely to pay for the upkeep of the roads), licencing, etc.

Basic rules of the road no longer seem to be followed nor is any courtesy shown. Whatever happened to simple things like using a turn signal (remember those things?). Then you add cyclists that have no clue about rules of the road (and campaign to be allowed to ignore things like stop signs).

What this is really all about is many people in out society refuse to be accountable or take ownership of their own failures. This really has become an argument about "ME". Grow up.

Zaki

Outside the city, for example north of highway 7 you should be able to modify existing sidewalks to fit both bicycles and pedestrians. I usually count zero walkers using them.

Currently, the return on your tax money spent on sidewalks is almost zero, because very few people use them, even when the weather permits it. However, any money spent to retrofit the sidewalks for the above purpose will be more effective.

Don't forget that you can use the land effectively, or lose it, as is the case in some new US cities, where they have stopped building sidewalks altogether.

You say it is dangerous for the two groups to share the same space? I say it is not, at least for the following reasons.

1. It should be obvious that the difference in momentum between a cyclist and a walker is much smaller than that of a car and a cyclist. Therefore, it is unlikely that a walker is killed by a cyclist, whereas it is very likely that a cyclist is killed by a dangerous driver.

2. The above point makes a rider more cautious than a driver, because in a collision, a cyclist knows that he or she will get hurt as much as the walker. A car or a truck driver on the other hand, does not have to worry about this.

3. Bicycles are used for only a fraction of time during the year here. There are very few riders in winter.

I think the only way to encourage more bicycles is to assure citizens that it is safe to do so. As is right now, I would hesitate to share the road with myself as a driver. I would buy a bicycle tomorrow if I knew I could ride as safely as I can walk today. But I don't walk either, so why not put sidewalks to a better use?

Phillip Poplak

Kenzie in his usual fulminating way is making a big deal about
about nothing. As a motorist I have never had a problem with pulling out and giving a cyclist enough space. Lets' share the road & stay cool. A few seconds is all it adds to our travel time to make our roads safer.

John Spragge

The article contains many errors, but two stand out: first, at least in Toronto, a majority of people have and ride bicycles. So an argument based on the majority will favour the rights of those of us who cycle. The argument that cycling poses a danger also gets it wrong. Notwithstanding the reckless behaviour of some drivers, the minority that does not ride bicycle, at least some of the time, endanger their lives more than those of us who do ride.

Cars kill in many ways, but one of the most common ways cars kill happens silently; they foster an inactive lifestyle, which as doctors have started to warn us with increasing consistency plays a role in any number of debilitating and life-shortening conditions. When Mr. Wheeler grabs his chest and collapses, and the doctors come out and tell the grieving family that he didn't rally and they couldn't save him, his inactive lifestyle, enabled and symbolized by his car, killed him, as surely as if he'd hit a bridge pillar at a buck forty. Personally, I plan to make the reaper fight for it. I'll take my chances on two wheels, and not let anyone say I went down without a fight.

Thom H

Jim,

This opinion piece is the most puerile argument I've ever read in The Star. While I'm indifferent to the issue, I am deeply offended by the quality of your retoric.

We've got plenty of stupid without help from you, thanks.

Larry

Mike Powell: 'Quite frankly I'm tired of hearing how cyclists pay their share of the costs of the road because they don't. While they may pay property tax, they do not pay taxes for fuel (which by the way was implemented solely to pay for the upkeep of the roads), licencing, etc.'

They do pay fuel taxes and licensing fees if, like most bike owners, they are also drivers.

Both sides of the debate could do better at sharing the road. I say this as someone who both drives and cycles. Yes, cars outnumber and outweigh bikes ... cars outnumber and outweigh pedestrians too ... trucks also vastly outweigh cars but it doesn't entitle truckies to be cavalier and proclaim ownership of the road around car drivers.

Private members' bill or no, everyone using the road has an obligation to use caution around everyone else. It is perfectly possible for a driver to give a cyclist 3 ft/1 m of space and still maintain proper lane positioning, and a cyclist is entitled to use any part of the width of the lane PROVIDED it is safe and appropriate to do so (e.g., where there is no specific provision for bikes, a bike lane suddenly ends or someone is blocking the bike lane).

The speed of urban traffic, in Toronto at least, means that bikes and cars travel at comparable speeds much of the time and leaving room for others (including other drivers) is a given. I understand, though, that Kenzie is referring mostly to the kind of side-of-the-road semi-rural riding as in the recent collision in Quebec. I rode to work this morning, however, and there were more cyclists than cars at intersections along at least half the route.

I would really like to see Kenzie getting the cyclist perspective by getting on a bike and riding in traffic - not in the sidewalk-less drivers' paradise where he lives but starting from the Star building and travelling the downtown area - just to see how cyclists and drivers behave in this city.

On another note, and since your gripes about other drivers often seem to make more sense, what about drivers whose plates are rusty, faded and/or dirty to the point of being illegible? Isn't the requirement to have clearly legible plates ever enforced? I get the impression some drivers (especially the ones still holding the old 1973 plates) consider unreadable plates a badge of old-school honour.

David Conroy

Mr. Kenzie..
Rather shocked by your article.
As an avid cyclist (I race and thus spend many hours a day training on GTA roads) I have seen all kinds of behaviour.

It's true that 99.9% of the cyclists have all rolled through stop signs, ...however this weekend I watched 2 cars run red lights because they didn't appear to understand the signals. In both cases, it caused inconveniences for the oncoming cars.

Then there was the car that cut me off so that he could pull into Starbucks without slowing down.. let's be clear. He passed me first, saw me, then forced me to slam on my brakes and swerve into traffic to avoid rear-ending him. He said he signalled so I should have stopped to let him cross my path.

When we train for racing, we are riding at speeds in the 25-45km/h range. Do you really want us on the sidewalks or bikepaths. I personally stay away from the various bikepaths in the the city (Don Valley, Martin Goodman, etc) because of the collision dangers.

When I ride on roads with a small paved shoulder I too ride to the LEFT of the white line. This causes most cars to slow down and move to the left to pass me AND gives me an exit to the right should I need it. I find riding in the shoulder, cards don't slow down, don't pull to the left, and some come very close to the line.

We would love to share the road and we do respect cars and drivers. 8 days and 6 deaths.. we think alot about that.

We all have had close encounters and all know someone who has been hit. What we'd like is to have the same level of respect shown to us. I'll never understand the driver who rides as close to me as possible without hitting me and then jumps on the horn, even though there are multiple lanes of traffic to their left. Are you trying to scare me.. it works.

I'd encourage you to publish an article that shows the delay in a journey say from Toronto to King City on Keele St, because you had to slow down to pass our weekly group ride (of 100+ cyclists). 5-10 seconds on a 30 minute drive?

David

male camel toe

Ontario is a lousy place to ride a bike on the road because of the lack of respect from many auto drivers.
No law will stop Mr. Redneck buzzing cyclists in his loud Dodge pickup north of Burlington or Flamborough. He knows there are no police around to stop him from being the jackass he is!


Tom H

Jim,

This is the most ridiculous piece you have ever written. Your comments are totally out-to-lunch and just plain narrow-minded. You do not have your facts straight and need to be better educated on the real safety issues facing both drivers and cyclists.

People's lives are at stake and your wise-cracking, juvenile comments make you no different than many redneck pickup truck drivers on the back roads of Ontario.

Thanks for making the roads a little more unsafe for everyone.

Brian C

Mr. Kenzie,

I won't reiterate the points made by my fellow cyclists above. Your common-sense approach to the road appears to stop at four wheels. As a car nut and lover of all things fast, I thank you for your years of great automotive journalism-- but it appears that your best days are behind you. I won't be stopping by again.

Brian

Rob

Wow Jim - I am speechless. I have followed your column for years and then I find out about this. I think everything I need to say has been expressed by these posts (if you take the time to read them). I will add one thing: I'm sure some of your favourite autos you have reviewed over the years originate from Europe, and perhaps you have been fortunate enough to even drive them over there. Based on your attitude towards cyclists you must be one of the worst drivers that continent has ever seen.

Best of luck digging yourself out.

r.b.h

Jim,

If you're still checking out responses to your article:

All posters preceding me have made their point – which seems to be opposed to yours. I, too, am an avid driver (rallye in my earlier days, both North American and European) and an avid cyclist (past road and cross-country racer), and disagree with your stance.

Enough said.

David Mudkips

Kenzie,

Your article could have been much shorter, and just read: 4 wheels good, 2 wheels bad.

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