Going to bat for drivers, in any form, angers some cyclists
I’d like to think otherwise, but some cyclists have a pretty
big chip on their shoulder.
My Tuesday column was about how I was caught yet again by a Toronto police speed
trap, set up in places where they can snare the most drivers in the shortest
They have little to do with safety and everything to do with
revenue. The vast majority of speed trap tickets are for 15 k/ph over the
limit, just below the line for demerit points.
There’s nothing to gain by going to court, unless the
officer who laid the charge doesn’t show up.
They want drivers to plead guilty and pay the fine, but the
cops will always tell you they are writing it down to 15 k/ph over as a favour,
so you don’t get demerit points.
It creates a golden opportunity for insurers to stick it to
people who get caught in a speed trap two or three times in a year; even if a
driver has no demerit points and an excellent prior record, it can be used to
justify an extortionate premium increase.
The response to my column was huge, with virtually everyone
agreeing that speed traps are a predatory form of taxation, except for one guy,
who tried to twist it into something else.
“Just a comment on today’s column,” said Paul Stockton. “Why
is it that when a motorist sees a cyclist breaking the law, they’re a reckless
criminal, but when a motorist gets caught breaking the law, they’re a poor,
Here’s the reply I sent: “Answer: The law is seldom applied to cyclists. And for
the most part, that’s okay with me. Why are you trying to turn this into a cars
vs. cyclists thing? Are you blind to everything but the cyclist’s perspective?”
The substantial enmity between cyclists and drivers is part
of the transportation landscape around here. I see it when I’m driving, a daily
requirement of my job, and in emails I get from both sides.
But this is one area where there is distance between the
interests of cyclists and drivers.
If police laid in wait for cyclists to blow through red
lights without stopping, like they ambush drivers at the bottom of a long hill,
you could argue that the rules of the road are more evenly applied.
But they’re not. Cyclists almost always get a free ride,
when it comes to enforcement of traffic rules.
Drivers are preyed upon by police (Toronto
was ranked in 2010 as the worst city in North America
for speed traps) who use a radar gun to hold up otherwise law abiding people
And why ask me about other drivers? I don’t think most
drivers see cyclists as reckless criminals (okay, maybe a few), and I don’t
share that opinion.
I believe in the I Share The Road approach, and have come to
think of James Schwartz, the guy who started that pro-cyclist campaign, as a
I will gladly go to bat for drivers on this issue, just like
I do for cyclists on so many others.
There’s room for everyone in my tent.
And if some cylists don’t like it, too bad.