Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pedal-pushers a problem

Joe Warmington - Toronto Sun
Last Updated: 6th May 2009, 6:07am

Considering there were two elderly women in his way, the guy on the bike was pretty skilled to avoid hitting them.
Two centimetres here, four there, and who knows, maybe you need an ambulance.
Imagine the nerve of those women walking on the sidewalk like that -- you know blocking this young guy on his bike from getting to the next section of Queen St. W. where a woman with a stroller had to veer out of his way.
Darn pedestrians!
Did they not get the memo from City Hall? You know the one -- "Yield to those on bike because they are king." Truth is, this gutless weasel on this bike, one of dozens like him I witnessed yesterday, is actually breaking the rules.
Toronto Police Traffic Service Sgt. Tim Burrows was telling me adults are not permitted to ride their bicycles on city sidewalks under any circumstances, or ride on pedestrian crosswalks to hedge their bets to get through traffic intersections faster.
They don't seem to be listening. It happens everywhere.
Now for sure, there are some skilled and law-abiding cyclists but there are some huffy and puffy ones, too -- cursing drivers but breaking every darned rule of the road that exists.
"They think they are above the law," says security officer George Vavoulis, who sees it all the time. "I can tell you, people on bikes do more violations of the traffic laws than anybody else."
In five hours in different locations yesterday, I saw plenty to back that up.
Many don't wear helmets or abide by stoplights or signs, don't wait their turn in traffic and instead fly up the right or left of it. Many are hazards to themselves and everybody else, which is not really fair since they don't pay for licensing or insurance or the tax charged for every fuel fill-up that maintains the roads.
But as bad as some of these cyclists are, there is nothing lower than riding on a sidewalk.
It looked to me the only thing that would have made this one cyclist on Queen happier is if he actually knocked somebody down. He came close. Wonder what the fine would be for that? There is a fine for riding a bike on a city sidewalk. Burrows says it's a municipal bylaw offence, which is $85 downtown but just $3.75 in East York and North York.
Yeah, that ought to act as a deterrent. Don't see many of those handed out, but Burrows says it does happen.
Instead of nailing those parked illegally, perhaps the parking assassins should be put in charge of keeping these bikes off sidewalks. They could have handed out hundreds yesterday instead of collecting on the easier game of nailing parkers.
Right after Car-Free Day in Toronto this September I wish they would then have a Bike- Free Day -- just as a reminder to these cyclists that using our roads is a privilege. Of course, we know with this bikes-are-good and cars-are-bad council, they want it to be the other way around.
It's mind-boggling because there is nothing more dangerous on the road than bikes. When there is a crash -- as I witnessed on King St. W. last night where a woman fell off and hit the pavement thanks to the street car tracks, it's not always their fault. But they come out of it with the most damage.
It might not be popular to say, but by original design, bikes really don't belong on the road at all with streetcars, trucks, cars and motorcycles -- for the same safety reasons that ball hockey is outlawed on city streets, too.
But a greening, more anti-car society has decided it should be a shared experience and is budgeting millions to add more bike paths to streets that are more in need of pothole repairs. At least with bike paths, they have a fighting chance and its certainly better for the people on the sidewalks.
Certainly if a socialist city council is trying to push bike riding as a legitimate form of commuting (as their transit plan indicated) and these bikes will share the roads with vehicles that are licensed and insured and safety inspected, the same should be asked of those on two wheels.
How else do you have the power to get a creep like the guy riding between the elderly ladies off the road -- I mean -- sidewalk?

~~Editor's Note~~
There are some great points in this article. Surely as there are cyclists who don't respect the laws of road use and choose to be very high on rights while very low on responsibilities, the same can be said about many of our motor vehicle road users.
Cars and trucks parked in bicycle lanes, drivers making turns without looking for cyclists and the dreaded person who opens a car door without doing a mirror and shoulder check first are hazards to everyone who shares in the safe and responsible use of our roads.
Cycling is a great mode of transportation, an answer to environmental concerns and is can be a key ingredient for a healthier lifestyle
To become a safer and more skilled rider enroll in a safety/skills course like Can Bike. Click here for more details.

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