SooToday.com has received the following letter from a very frustrated cyclist. He tells us the challenges he describes in his letter are common among cyclists in Sault Ste. Marie who often share similar stories.
Like to drive?
Now that the snow has gone and weather has warmed up, many people will be out enjoying it.
My favourite activity is bicycling (both winter and summer).
It's a great way to stay fit and a great method of transportation that produces zero emissions!
Now that I have your attention, I would like to address some of the challenges that we face from local motorists.
A bicycle is classified as a vehicle under the Highway & Traffic Act of Ontario, which means we have to ride on the road and follow the same rules that you have to follow. Individuals over the age of 18 are required by law to ride on the road.
If one of us were to ride on the side walk and get stopped by law enforcement, we can face somewhere between $30 and $90 in fines.
Riding the sidewalk has its own set of dangers that many people never think about.
Getting right hooked, cars pulling out of driveways, hitting pedestrians, etc are all things that have to be carefully watched for.
Just like you, we have to stop at red lights or stop signs and also for school busses.
We have to signal our turns, obey posted signs and respect other vehicles on the road.
If we fail to comply with those, we can be fined and also charged under the traffic act.
So what is it about a man or woman on their bike that causes so much aggravation to people who drive cars?
Is it because we look different?
I don't have a couple thousand pounds of metal shell protecting me.
People tell me they are mad at cyclists because they get in their way when they are driving.
I'm sorry that I am going 25 km/h in a 50 km/hr zone that you want to go 60 km/h in.
Wait for a safe place to pass!
Why would you give me the one finger salute as you go by?
Why do you need to throw your half empty water bottle at me?
Why do you need to fling your cigarette butt at me when you pass?
Why do you need to yell at me?
Why do you need to get out of your vehicle and try to fight me?
I don't think you'd do the same to someone in their car. Why the disrespect?
I really don't care what you drive or what gang you are a member of.
Why do you feel like you have to speed by me at 60km/h when neither of us have a shoulder to travel on?
Even worse, why do you have to play chicken with me to see how close you can get to me?
I think two-feet is a little close, don't you think?
If you slow down and give me a little room then you can simply speed back up when you get around me safely.
Is it that hard to press back down on the accelearator?
Why is 5-10 seconds so precious out of your life that you are willing to sacrifice mine for it?
Why the hatred?
I am riding a bicycle.
I don't pollute.
I don't use any gasoline in my travels.
When you pass me by in your dual-king cab V-8 pickup truck towing a boat, you should be thanking me that I'm not using any gasoline in my recreational activity that you are, and will be using.
You would rather throw your fast food wrapper at me instead and tell me to get off the road.
The very same road that my tax dollars helped pay for too.
I see a lot of things when I ride my bike.
You might be amazed at the number of fresh beer cases I see on the side of the road during my bike rides.
Lots of people in cars are pigs in other ways.
Cigarette butts are all over our roadways like you wouldn't believe.
Litter is still a problem.
I think if more people got out of their car they wouldn't be so quick to chuck stuff out of their windows!
Car drivers aren't worried about being perfect.
Why, they have too much stuff going on: Unwrapping a Big-Mac, getting the DVD spun up for the twin spawn in the back seat, texting their boyfriend the location of the party, lighting up that cigarette or fumbling about with the iPod, all at a comfy speed of 60 km/hr in a 40 km/hr or 50 km/hr speed zone.
The problem is, if I'm not perfect I pay for it with my life.
If you aren't perfect, I pay for it with my life.
It doesn't matter if you are right or I am wrong, or I am right and you are wrong, when it comes to sharing the
road, the cyclist always, always, always loses.
The next time you drive by me and decide it would be a great time to throw your pop can out the window in my path,
consider if you would like for me to throw the same can at you when you are walking into the house for your
5 o'clock feeding.
I doubt you would be very amused.
I am sure that it would make for a good youtube video!
I am certainly not amused at your antics that you perform from your car when I am riding my bicycle.
A little respect would be really cool.
As for those of you who pass by me at a reasonable speed, leaving a distance between us whie smiling or waving
when passing: Thank you!
It doesn't go un noticed, we notice almost everything!
Thank you for being considerate of others and respectful as if it was you on that bicycle!
We are allowed to use a full lane if we want which means we can ride in the middle of the lane.
An increasing number of us have "crash cam's" mounted to our bicycles.
Smile for the camera!