Don’t judge until you’ve ridden in another’s seat

Trevor thinks there’s plenty of blame on both sides of the cyclist-motorist divide

With Bike to Work & School Week approaching quickly in the rear view, it seems cycling has been on a lot of people’s minds.

In the past two weeks I’ve had a number of people approach me about writing what would certainly amount to two very different stories on the subject.

On one hand, I had multiple people express frustration regarding how they perceive bikers to act inconsiderately (one person I spoke to referred to them as crazy) and in a manner dangerous to other drivers.

On the other hand, two self-described daily bikers felt it’s motorists, and not cyclists, who are guilty of the bad roadside manners and who will hog the road, park in bike lanes or turn without checking their mirrors.

What a false dichotomy.

LAST WEEK: Who watches the watchmen?

One thing I noticed when I got my licence and started driving is that, paradoxically, I became a much better biker.

Prior to having a car, I would always do rolling stops at stop signs (if I was even biking on the road). I would turn without signalling. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but there were also some times I ran yellow lights that I definitely could have stopped safely at.

Why am I telling you all this? To illustrate a point.

I knew that these things were bad in my head as I did them, however I didn’t really understand the impact of how they affect drivers (and who hasn’t had that experience of getting ready to take a turn you have the right-of-way on, only to notice some biker ripping down the lane in your rear-view with no sign at all of slowing down) until I was one myself.

I could sit here and say I’ve never disobeyed the rules of the road as a cyclist — that would be a lie.


Smithers can’t afford to wait on low-income housing

Small towns make for good small talk

I’m not going to try to paint myself as some sort of perfect biker. I’m sure they exist (and are probably judging me, rightly so, for the above infractions) but I think if people are honest with themselves most of us can admit to doing the odd rolling stop — especially at 12:45 a.m. on a Friday night as we’re frantically trying to get to the 7-Eleven before they sell out of that sweet, sweet fried chicken.

Likewise, as I began to drive a car I realized just how little space cyclists really have on the road and started to look at transportation from a different perspective — I’ve seen those drivers on the roads that cyclist complain about.

I’ve seen them giving way too little space to someone biking on the curb in windy, wet weather as they cruise along in the heated seats of their luxury sedan.

I’ve seen (read: experienced) the unnerving sensation of turbulance drawing you unnaturally close to a semi passing you on Hwy 16 — not fun.

I’ve even seen someone lay the horn down at Main Street and Hwy. 16 as a bike tried to turn onto the highway (with right-of-way, mind you).

In short, there are bad apples on both sides.

As for how to bridge the gap?

In two words: mutual understanding.

When I became a driver it made me a better biker. Likewise, I expect many who have driven for decades would gain a newfound appreciation for the challenges bikers face by doing the odd two-wheel commute.

When I said that there where two sides of the story I heard above, that was a lie as well.

There was a third group — and it was sizeable — of people who echoed this view I’ve put forward: that blame doesn’t rest with bikers or drivers as a whole, but rather the ones who are intentionally blind to the issues each other face.

I’m glad there are lots who can recognize this, because blanket statements of blame really do help no one and only serve to increase tension between the two camps.

If we can acknowledge that there are challenges unique to bikers and challenges unique to drivers on the road, and that it’s in both parties’ best interests to address those in a mutually-beneficial way, then perhaps we can shift the conversation into one on bridging the gap for all who use our roads, as opposed to arguing over who is at fault.

We all share the road — let’s talk about how we can make it safer for all of us.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Ramona Wilson Memorial Walk: Twenty-five years, but still no closure

“What we’re standing for today is that nobody is going to sweep this under the rug, nobody.”

Muheim class repeats 2017 award for interaction with seniors

Liliana Pesce’s Grade 4-5 class honoured by BC Retired Teachers Association

Bulkley Valley U14 boys soccer squad wins zones

The Rapids will now proceed to provincial championship in Prince George July 4-5

Donaldson announces seal coating for portions of Hwy 16, Kispiox

Two sections of road in the Bulkley Valley have had their fate sealed.

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Most Read