I was out for a walk the other night. It was a lovely night, early evening, when I heard yelling. The person most upset was a cyclist who had nearly been clipped because there was an over sized car in the bike lane. There has been a lot of negative press in Toronto about bike lanes and cyclists in general. Everyone seems to forget that some motorists are really bad at what they do. Apparently this healthy able bodied young woman would not pull ahead 25 meters to a legal spot
There was not obvious reason for her to park in the bike lane. I watched as she refused to move forward to the free parking spot. I walked over to support the cyclist who seemed to be on adrenalin overload. It was a stupid altercation. My blood pressure quickly rose as well. The woman was an absolute idiot, stoned out of her sensibilities and should not be behind the wheel in the first place. I returned to the other side of the street before I caused more problems – I was gratified to see that the cyclist was soon supported by a group of people, one of whom called the police. Eventually the stoned girl moved her car forward out of the way of cyclists.
I get annoyed over the bike lanes in this city. Cyclists are giving up 2/3 of their entitled lane which they share with other vehicles in exchange for a dedicated lane, citing reasons related to safety – which by the way, make no sense to me. People who do not cycle see bike lanes as a privilege that most cyclists do not deserve and they them show little or no respect by parking and or driving on them (and not getting tickets). If there was a similar situation in a marriage where one person is giving and another disrespecting that generousness, friends and family would not give the marriage much chance for survival.
The City could likely be sued if a cyclist is killed while riding in the bike lane because it is unsafe to remain so close to the curb, especially at night. Drivers entering a main street look towards the middle of the road for oncoming traffic. They do not expect fast moving traffic to come alongside the curb. They will pull right out in front of cyclists. Why the city is endangering some of its citizens?
Additionally, the City gives mixed messages to cyclists and drivers about right hand turns and the suicide squeeze. On the one hand, they put a dotted line on the bike lane divider or end the bike lane as it gets close to the intersection. In my mind this is safe, allows for smoother traffic flow, and follows the rules of the road which require vehicles to pass right turning vehicles on the left side.
I agree that many cyclists don’t know the rules and they should smarten up, BUT how are they to smarten up if the rules are inconsistently applied? Look at the intersections around U of T. I guess the city officials think these students cannot learn anything. They have blocked of the bike lanes making it ILLEGAL for a car to move close to the curb when making a right turn. Now what does that teach? Cyclists ride to the RIGHT of right turning vehicles? In most other corners of this country, this very dangerous move is called the suicide squeeze AND no wonder motorists get pissed off! Now they are forced to make a right turn from the middle lane (which is totally illegal, for a reason) and all the cars behind them are delayed, no longer able to drive around the right turning vehicle, they are not just waiting until our lovely pedestrians make their way across the intersection but now while the right turning driver checks and double checks for oncoming cyclists coming up to his/her right. Is passing on the LEFT completely out of the question in this very conservative city?
Does anybody ACTUALLY have a PLAN? Or do we wait for the inevitable blood bath?