Growing up when I was learning how to ride my bike, my dad taught me and my younger brothers how to ride in the alley behind our house. It was great because there weren’t many people or cars going by, so we were able to ride back and forth rather freely, smash into fences or fall off our bike without the worry of getting hit by a car or running over some poor person walking by.
Once we knew how to ride, my dad would take us out on the streets in our neighbourhood. We would start with quiet residential streets at first, until we got the hang of riding on the street, making room for cars, respecting the rules of the road and that included stopping at stop signs, cross walks and stop lights. This is how we are teaching our boys how to ride.
When you’re on the road, whether you’re a pedestrian, a cyclist or a driver, you must obey the rules of the road – the laws that have been put into place for all of our safety, and that’s how it’s supposed to work. You can’t choose what laws and rules work for you when it best suits your needs. They have been put into place to ensure there isn’t chaos and that people aren’t getting killed.
I find today people are getting worse and the roads just aren’t as safe as they should be. It’s really getting ridiculous and dangerous. I’m a pedestrian, I’m a cyclist and I’m also a driver. I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes just like many of us have, running a yellow that’s almost red because I’m running late or crossing the street where I shouldn’t.
When I was a pedestrian, I hated drivers. When I was a cyclist I hated pedestrians. When I’m behind the wheel of my car I hate cyclists and pedestrians. Maybe it’s because I’m older now, maybe it’s because I have kids. But I want my kids to learn how to be safe when they are out in the world on their own one day, and when it comes down to it, people need to smarten up, especially cyclists.
Now, I’m not knocking every single cyclist out there, there are many good ones, but the majority think they are invincible, that they’re the sun and that the earth revolves around them. Well guess what, you’re not the sun, and you have to obey the rules of the road like everybody else. That means stopping at stop signs, and not riding your bike across a pedestrian crosswalk.
I’ve seen cyclists do some crazy things, most just not caring because they think they have the right of way. Take the Annex for example. A while back the city decided to make Shaw Street a two-way for cyclists, not giving drivers much room now that we have to share the road with cyclists on both sides of us. But fine, no problem, I can share the road. What I can’t stand though, is the number of cyclists who don’t stop at stop signs. Not just going southbound, but the new lanes they made for cyclists to go northbound on Shaw Street also came with stop signs at every point there’s a stop sign going south. But, does anyone stop? Nope. Why would they when it’s not being enforced?
I’m not even talking as a driver, as a pedestrian I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve tried crossing Shaw Street and cyclists going northbound have almost run me over. I’m not the only one who has nearly been run over either. So many people I know who live in that neighbourhood have complained about the same thing. As a driver, I’ve witnessed it many times too. If the city is going to implement these new ideas for cyclists, they need to educate cyclists about the rules of the road and they need a way to enforce these rules.
Why is it that as a driver, if I run a red light or a stop sign or now a pedestrian crosswalk, I can get fined, lose demerits points and my insurance goes up? Why hasn’t the city put a plan into place for cyclists who don’t obey the rules of the road?
Last summer my husband witnessed a cyclist turning left on a red light downtown. There was a police officer on a bike right next to him who told him he shouldn’t run the red, but the cyclist did it anyway. And guess what the police office did? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. When the light turned green, the police officer went along on his merry way and didn’t do a thing about the cyclist.
It’s getting pretty bad. I’ve witnessed parents even not stopping at stop signs and teaching their kids who are also on their bikes to run the stop sign. What is that teaching these children? That they don’t have to obey the rules, only the ones that best suit their needs?
Listen, I’ve seen many horrible drivers out there, just like I’ve seen pedestrians doing things they shouldn’t. I think we have all done things we shouldn’t have done at one point or another, but I find overall, that drivers are being more courteous and mindful of the rules of the road. Cyclists? Well, the city definitely needs to crack down and find some way to get things running more safely.
Have you encountered any craziness out on the road? What sorts of things have you seen? Tell me some of your stories.