Now, I would probably be one of the first people to complain about cyclists in Vancouver. As a car driver, I see so many traffic infringements from cyclists that it just makes me angry. Ignoring stop signs, not signalling, not using reflectors or lights at night…Don’t get me wrong: I love the thought of cycling and applaud people for decreasing their carbon footprint while, at the same time, getting fantastic exercise while they commute. Biking in general is an amazing idea. In fact, I would LOVE to be a cyclist in this city if I didn’t think I’d get killed doing it. I’ve considered switching for a very long time.
On the flip side, you’ll also know from my blog that I’m not the biggest fan of automobile drivers, either. They aren’t saints, far from it. The stupid mistakes and blatant breaking of traffic laws is RAMPANT in this city, and a shit-ton of collisions (I refuse to call them accidents) could be avoided if people were more aware of their surroundings, paying attention to what they were taught when learning to drive, and just being more defensive in general. I know I’m not the safest driver in the world (I inherited my Grandfather’s lead foot), but I try my best to use my signals, do my shoulder checks and check my rearview mirrors, and just generally be as considerate as possible to the people I’m sharing the road with.
Neither bikes nor cars own the the road. We co-exist. Tough nuts if you don’t like it; it’s the way it’s always going to be.
Today, my friend/coworker was hit by a vehicle while cycling. She has reflectors, a helmet, takes the precautions one should take when taking a tiny metal frame on wheels into the path of speeding, stupid, inconsiderate, gas-powered machines. She has broken ribs, maybe even other damaged bones, and will need surgery. She won’t be able to go to work or school until she’s recovered.
It was sunny and light out. She has a bright green, highly visible helmet. There is absolutely no reason why she should have been hit, other than that not enough attention was paid to what was going on.
This is RIDICULOUS to me. As I drove my friend and her kitties to the vet this afternoon, after learning of my friend’s collision, I found myself watching the road a little more carefully. I watched a car drive up Dunbar IN THE BIKE LANE that is clearly painted going in both directions. I saw somebody turning left and almost taking out a woman walking her bike TOWING A CHILD CAR BEHIND IT across a crosswalk. I watched cars not even slow down to allow a runner to cross the street at a corner. The other day I saw a guy drive 40 blocks down Granville with his trunk open. I mean, COME ON!
Something has to be done. And soon.
Mandatory driving knowledge tests every 5 years? Let’s to it. It seems to me like people don’t even know what most of the signs mean. More traffic cops patrolling? Go for it. Steeper fines for cars AND bikes who break the law? IT’S ABOUT TIME. But mostly, this is a plea to the commuters of Vancouver: Pay attention. Turn on your headlights, not just your daylighters. Use your signals and mirrors. Do your shoulder checks. Stop being so stupid.
This all comes down to COMMON SENSE. If you don’t have any, get off the road. It’ll make my commute so much easier and, better yet, will stop putting my friends in the hospital.