“Share the road” goes both directions.
Those who support the Town of Smithers Active Transportation Plan and want to see more consideration given to residents who choose not to drive, or limit their use of motorized transportation, aren’t getting a lot of favours from many of the cyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers and scooter riders who use the streets.
Reaction to our recent story (“Smithers moves forward with Active Transportation Plan,” The Interior News, May 15, Page A4) indicates there is a significant cohort of vehicle drivers who feel disenfranchised by a perceived double-standard.
There is good reason for this. For the most part, motorists obey the rules of the road. They stop at stop signs and traffic lights, obey the speed limits, signal their intentions and do their very best to be considerate of other road users.
Of course, drivers are expected, indeed required by law, to do so. If they did not, they would not be drivers for very long, because when they don’t, there are consequences.
Cyclists and others are also expected, indeed required by law, to obey the rules of the road. But all too often they don’t and there are no consequences.
So, when those non-motorized bad apples, who give their law-abiding counterparts a bad name, blast through stop signs, cruise across lanes without signaling, ride without helmets, lights or reflective clothing, and in a variety of other ways flaunt the rules of the road, it can be a little irking to drivers.
The irk is not just the perceived injustice of a double-standard, however. It puts drivers in a bad position because when there are consequences for, they are the worst kind. When a bicyclist is severely injured or killed, it is little, if any, consolation to most drivers that the cyclist was at fault for not following the rules. That’s just the way most of us are wired.
It is admirable for the Town to promote healthy activities and try to reduce motorized transportation for a variety of reasons. And many people have worked long and hard to make sure the rights of those who choose alternatives to a car or truck are respected.
So, if we are going to go down this road, and of course we should, equal consideration should be given to ensuring the rights of motorists are also respected.
It is not just up to vehicle drivers to share the road, all road users should be held to the same standard of behaviour. And if they do not abide, there should be consequences.
It’s only fair.