Motorists, cyclists – education and respect needed

by: Constance Sheriff  date:  November 28, 2010

Letter to the Editor, Lethbridge Herald

As an avid cyclist who regularly commutes to work, I have had some unpleasant interactions with motorists recently. Lethbridge is not an especially safe city for cyclists, but motorists and cyclists are often both to blame. For example, some motorists do not accept that I am entitled to cycle on the road,

whereas some cyclists do not know that they cannot ride across crosswalks if they are not riding on the road. Cyclists on paths and sidewalks crossing intersections must dismount and walk across, just like a pedestrian.

I cycle almost exclusively on the road, which I have every right to do. When I am on the road, I become a vehicle. As a result, I follow the same rules that cars do. I signal my turns, I stop when required, and I pay close attention to what is going on around me. I have a bell and several lights on my bike, and always use reflective clothing and gear. However, on at least three occasions in the past few months motorists have driven up to me, rolled down their windows, and yelled at me in a threatening manner to “Ride on the ******* sidewalk!” This is uncalled for, and is also extremely dangerous. Drive around me – I will ride as close to the right hand side of the road as is safe. However, you must accept that there may be instances where you must slow down to pass me safely.

Despite these negative interactions I will continue to cycle on the road, as I generally travel at speeds that make it dangerous and unlawful to ride on mixed-use paths, and in my opinion adults cyclist should not be riding on sidewalks unless transporting children. I will follow the rules of the road, just as if I were driving a car. I will try to minimize disruption to motorists by signalling my turns, stopping when required, and being as courteous as possible. In return, I ask motorists to also be courteous, to watch for cyclists on the road, to us give some room (remember the 3 feet rule – I should be able to stretch my left arm out straight and not touch your vehicle), and to have some patience. Cyclists and motorists both must ensure they understand the rules of the road and follow them. Cars and bikes can share the same road. We all just need to slow down a little, and show each other some respect.

Lethbridge Herald November 27, 2010