Sunday, October 03, 2010

Ride on

This way
Laval, QC, August 2010

The day has dawned cold, grey and wet. I can live with the temperature and the color of the sky. But the moisture thing is another story. I'd rather not bundle myself and my cargo into a human Ziploc bag, then curse the very existence of the planet as road spray works its way into the very fiber of my being. It's a miserable way to travel, and I'm just not into it when I can just as easily take my car and avoid yet another head cold.

Yes, I've become soft and lazy. Discuss.

To compensate somewhat for the guilt I now feel as I pick up my car keys and head out the door, I'd like to share this scene with you, shot from my in-laws' window. I enjoy shooting from tall buildings primarily because I do not live in one. So being way above the ground gives me new opportunities to look at the world. And on this day, I looked way down and saw a freshly paved road with a newly painted bike path running against traffic. Ding!

Would I ever ride on this path? Quebec (and, by inclusion, Montreal-area) drivers, are widely thought to be among the most aggressive on the planet. So no thank you. My let's-get-hit-by-a-car adventure years ago came courtesy of just such a wrong-way path that converged with an arguing-with-his-wife-and-forgetting-to-see-that-stop-sign man. This place is chock full of these death traps, which if you follow the stats are 55 times more likely to turn cyclists into hood ornaments.

So I'll follow the experts' advice and take my chances riding in the lane, along with traffic. I'm sure the honking and the cursing will begin shortly. For the record, I can hear it, but I'm not listening.

Your turn: Why can't motorists and cyclists get along? I still can't figure it out, and I wish I knew why.

One more thing: This is a parallel-themed photo. It's parallel week. You know what to do.


Kalei's Best Friend said...

I wouldn't generalize..Some do, some don't.. I think it depends if either bike rider/driver has had an incident w/each other... Technically, bike riders have precedence... Auto drivers are in a lethal weapon... What it comes down to is common sense, consideration... I've seen where a bike rider almost was run over and heard his shouts... I've also seen where bike riders Ass-u-me they can cut in front of drivers... But for the most part most are considerate.U would think drivers would be extra careful because if they do hit a rider, they can be potentially sued or take a life... Its not worth fighting for principle.. Principle won't bring back a life or pay for a lawsuit.

Juniper said...

I've always thought that everybody should have experienced everything (well normal things) on the road, ie:

riding a motorcycle
riding a horse

so that they can relate to the experience. I have done all of these and I think it makes a difference.

As KBF says you cannot generalise as there are idiots at every stage.


Kay said...

hmmm... probably because of stubborn heads, such as myself, that either by foot, bike or wheel....I've got the right of way...


safe travels!

Max said...

As someone who is primarily a car driver, my point of view is from that side of the debate. I could list dozens of times I have had to react to inconsiderate bicyclists. Of course, I would also have a long list of times inconsiderate drivers have caused me problems, I can only imagine what it would be like without 2 tons of steel between me and their 2 tons of steel.
Any group of people has it's "me first" sub group, and unfortunately drivers and bicyclists alike or more likely to remember them. And generalize them to the entire group. I think that's why there is so much friction between drivers and bicyclists. We're competing for the same turf, and the ones that are considerate of this sharing are overshadowed by the ones that raise our blood pressure.
I try to keep in mind that most bicyclists respect my rights to the road as much as they want me to respect theirs. And although I bitch, moan and swear when they don't respect mine, I have to keep in mind that it's an unfair fight between a car and a bicycle. I know from experience that regardless of whose fault it is, the bicyclist gets hurt worse and the car driver's insurance ends up paying.
And as for the rain - you can send some of it down here. We haven't seen a drop for almost 3 weeks now.

SY said...

Ahhh see I'm lame.. I don't fit into any category

A Paperback Writer said...

My gripes are with the bikers who ignore all common sense and make life harder for drivers. These are the riders who do not even slow down at stop signs, barely slow at stop lights, ride side-by-side and take up half a lane to slow all cars behind them, ignore bike lanes, and use busy streets instead of back streets to get where they're going. To be fair, all these gripes apply to joggers who do the same thing.
A teacher at our school bikes frequently, but he uses only back roads and obey both common sense and traffic laws. His type of rider I admire.

Oh, and I have serious issues with the idiots who put tiny babies in flimsy little wagons trailing behind their bikes and then tow said babies along horrendously busy streets. Why are these folks not arrested for child endangerment? There is no way they could snatch their infant from harm's way if the need arose. I'm sorry, but if a child is too young to ride a bike, it should not be towed from a bike. The parent in question either needs to walk with the child, put it in a back carrier, or use motorized transportation.

becca said...

cool pic

Scarlet said...

i have always admired cyclists for being so brave as to ridde on the road with the general traffic... I've always been to scared to ride anywhere other than the bike track at the local park, well away from vehicles!

TheMuddledMarketPlace said...

"Madam! Stop! You May Not Do That!"
My introduction to our then town's Policing of cyclists sharing space with pedestrians.
There followed a long harague on the rights and the wrongs of cycling on pavenments and how I should have been in the road.
My point that it was a weekend, early in the morning, I was going slower than most walkers ( were they around) the pavement was Very wide and Totally deserted while the road was gridlocked and consisted of irate and badly behaving car drivers.....made no sense to them at all. I should have been in the mayhem. On the road. And next time they would book me.

I had worked all night with people for whom reality was a distant cousin twice removed + unfortunatly the weekend before I had assisted in emergency as we patched up (Yet Again) another cyclist who had been riding in our towns cycling lanes when a lorry decided he would as well.

" When you can ensure that I will remain alive when I cycle in those cycle lanes...I will do as you ask. Until then. Book me"...was something like my unusually nasty response.

Quite how I got home, memory does not disclose.
Quite how I didn't get booked, i also don't exactly recal.
But I do know that That policeman never bothered me again when he saw me riding safely, slowly and with care on our town's pavements.

+ I am with The Paperback Writer's colleague: back roads for me! And if I really have to go on main roads, I always choose the ones with deserted pavements.

As an avowed cyclist though, i remain deeply embarressed by the elderly cylist who insists on cyling out of our city at rush hour. Heading up the northern exit road he rides RIGHT in the middle of the road...causing busdrivers to break out into tourettes style language and our streets to descend into Delhi-style honking and hooting. Someone get this guy a free taxi pass!

kcinnova said...

Riding and facing on-coming traffic? No thank you! I also avoid riding in city traffic; nearly being run off the road by a Seattle Metro Bus cured me of that desire many years ago.
Bicyclists vs. drivers is a huge issue on the rural highways near my home. Personally, I don't mind the 2-wheelers at all. I can be patient and go around them when it is safe to do so. It is the on-coming vehicles that don't stay in their lanes (I'm blaming cell phones here) that frighten me. I experienced 3 such drivers in one day last week.

daisy said...

Where I live in the U.S. (southern midwest) not much attention is paid to having designated bike trails. I'm always amazed if I see someone biking; however it is usually a weekend and not a commute to work. We also have terrible mass transit. This is what happens when you are an oil/gas state - the government wants you to keep using your cars so they can keep making $$. Sad.