November 09, 2011

Ranty Rant

I'm not a very "political person".
I don't talk or argue about politics because I don't think I know enough to spout an informed opinion. Sometimes I have political opinions but I find they are usually more "reactionary" than grounded in any kind of beliefs.
I try to follow the news to have some clue about what's going on and yesterday, the story on the news about Jenna Morrison stopped me cold.
I know a woman who lives in that neighbourhood. I had loaned her my bike lights so she could ride home after dark (she had forgotten her own) and I briefly worried that it was her until they said that it had happened during the day when she was at work. Whew.

But here are my thoughts on biking in Toronto:

There are villians on both sides.
There are a multitude of cyclists who don't obey traffic laws and there are an equal amount of drivers who do the same.
The arguments are endless and the side that a person takes often depends on what vehicle they are driving.
I don't want to argue about the quality of driving/riding.

But something has to change.

One of the main problems I see with this city is that everyone thinks they should come first. I see it on the subway every day. On the sidewalk. In the mall.
And when I drive the car or ride my bike.
There is a sense of entitlement that some residents of this city have that only results in confrontation and anger.

I read one of the stories about Jenna Morrison this morning and don't ask me why, but I read some of the comments. They were the usual - "Bikes shouldn't be on the road", "the cyclist shouldn't have been where she was" etc.
The most disturbing comment I read was "there have only been two cyclists killed this year in collisions with motorists".
Does that make it ok?
I don't even know if this is true - but honestly - how many people have to die to bring about change?

I am sick of hearing about "the war on the car".
In a war between a car and a cyclist, the car is going to win. It doesn't matter who is at fault. The conflict between these two groups is a pissing match and it doesn't accomplish anything.

Here's what I think we need:

We need dedicated bike lanes. One with raised curbs so cars cannot drive in them.
These should be in all major routes in the city. I'm not saying that there won't still be issues with right turns (as in the case with Jenna Morrison) among other things but it would be a start. Bike lanes aren't bike lanes anymore when cars drive in them and force cyclists into traffic.
It wouldn't solve everything. But it would be a good start.

Here's one for the drivers out there - cyclists who don't follow traffic laws should be ticketed. How many cyclists cruise through four-way stops or don't signal when they're turning? How many drivers do the same? It's a bad combo. I admit that there are times when I ride my bike along the cross walk. Why? Because I don't feel safe turning left in traffic. Drivers think you don't belong there. So I stick to the crosswalk. I know I'm not supposed to - but sometimes you have to choose.

I have to admit, I stopped wearing my bike helmet on my 5 minute ride to the subway. It was annoying. It wrecked my hair. It made me sweaty.
But this morning - I got it out and put it on. Why? Because one of the initial reports I heard was that Jenna lost her balance on her bike and she fell into the truck that killed her.
This resounded with me because I am a big klutz.
I lost my balance on my bike in my own driveway and fell over.
I wasn't even really moving.
That is embarassing to admit and it was kind of hilarious at the time -but it made me realize how vulnerable I really am, whether my ride is 5 minutes or 50. Even if I wasn't hit, my noggin hitting the ground could give me a concussion or worse.
So I decided my hairdo isn't worth it.

That's my inflated two cents.
I know I'm not going to change anything
but I'm affected by what happened.
and sometimes you have to speak out -
however you can.

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