Hello folks! Instead of talking about something fibre-related I’m going to share about something different today. Anger. Particularly in the Car vs Bike culture.
I’m a cyclist. I’ve been road raged at, nearly hit, nearly run over, yelled at, actually hit and intentionally run off the road. Many times I’ve witnessed accidents, and very near accidents that were the result of people simply not being careful. I don’t want to point any fingers either, I’ve seen bad behaviour from both sides. The difference though, is, in a bike/car collision, the driver has to deal with breaks or dents, insurance claims, and a crappy day. A cyclist deals with a broken bike, and anything from bruises to PTSD, hospitalization or at the worst, loss of life. For a driver, hitting a cyclist means a bad day, for a cyclist, their life is potentially at risk.
I ride my bike often, nearly every day. As a family we have chosen to be car-free for financial and environmental reasons, so we use transit, cycle, or borrow vehicles when we really need one. When we ride, we’re riding to get somewhere, like when I take my son to school, or when my husband commutes to work. We follow the rules of the road, and ride defensively. About 99.9% of the time we share the road with careful, responsible drivers, who also follow the rules of the road. Thats good. But one bad driver can really make it difficult to get back on the bike the next time after an incident. As a driver, the goal is to get from point A to point B as quickly and smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, for too many commuter cyclists, their goal is to get from point A to point B in one piece. Cyclists are vulnerable.
In Vancouver, cyclists and drivers have become polarized over bike lane implementation, and creating cyclist-friendly roadways. In North America, we’re pretty darn attached to our cars, and folks seem reluctant to give them up. Its OK to have an opinion or take a side, but the problem is when we de-humanize the other side. Even if you ‘hate’ cyclists, and are determined to never give up your vehicle, just remember that cyclists do not have a protective metal shell around them, no airbags, no seatbelts, and require adequate respect on the road. Even if a cyclist is doing something that you think is really dumb, resist the urge to yell at them or get back at them by driving past them too closely or too quickly. As I said before, I’ve been on the receiving end of people’s anger many times on the road, and based on what they were yelling it really had nothing to do with me, it was about anger towards cyclists in general. If you do choose to ‘take a side’ in this, just remember not to generalize your frustration and let it guide your behaviour on the road.
A great option though, is to not take a side, you don’t have to. You can use your car when you need it, and cycle when you’re able. Pollution bad, exercise good, right? Bicycles are incredibly efficient, and allow people to travel easily and smoothly while getting fresh air, exercise, and getting their brownie points for doing their part for the environment. Cycling and driving is not mutually exclusive, we just need to get along. I think we will only see cycling increase in popularity as gas becomes more expensive and less accessible.
If I could give one piece of advice to cyclists and drivers alike, it would be this: be alert, and be nice.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe!