Friday, September 4, 2009

Road rage and safe cycling

Five cyclists were on a road in Kanata when a van approached from behind, a cyclist was killed following an incident with Michael Bryant, another cyclist was killed outside of Toronto..and the list goes on. The blogs and columns speak of road rage. Road rage is not new but it seems that cyclists are very vulnerable. As a cyclist I have heard drivers yell "Get off my road" and sometimes the driver will blast his horn and cut us off. It is very tempting to retaliate and 'flip the driver'. I have also heard of cyclists who carry rocks in their pockets which they hurl at cars that pass too close, or worse using their U locks to do damage to the cars. The roads that we use often have very narrow shoulders with a lot of potholes and if a car decided to force us off the road, it could result in a nasty accident.

As cyclists we are well aware that retaliation is a losing proposition. The driver can always claim that he or she did not see us, and if we do damage the car, will claim vandalism. If on the other hand, we 'flip the driver' we risk the driver trying to run us off the road or worse as the tempers rise. In a recent article in the Globe and Mail by Christine Blatchford, Blatchford recounts an incident where road rage, and this was between Blatchford in her car and another motorist escalated to a frightening stage.

As a group however, we can document incidents of dangerous driving, take pictures and report them to the police. I believe this information should be shared with other biking clubs in case a pattern emerges or in case certain areas of the city are more hazardous than others. In this way, we can make cycling safer for all of us.

I also feel that given the tensions that exist between cyclists and drivers at the moment, that it would be beneficial to have town meetings whereby each side could express their point of view. As members of a biking club, we have a responsibility to the cycling community to hold forth a standard of responsible and safe cycling

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