By Pico Triano
I know this article is going to be a case of preaching to the choir but a sight I've seen here in New Brunswick has set me off. I appreciate government efforts to promote bicycle safety and make motorists and bicycles more aware of each other. Unfortunately there are misguided motorist souls who aren't quite getting it and they are making decisions for everyone.
What I'm starting to see is signs showing the standard “share the road” message with a silhouette of a car and a cyclist only there is something additional added. The gap between the two is labelled three feet. Are they freaking insane? Any rational person should cringe at signs like that. I've had idiots blow by me between three and four feet away. Somebody with a heart condition would die on the spot.
My response to people who think these signs are rational is this. Bicycles are legitimate transportation. Most laws regard us a vehicles. We have the right to the lane and you are not allowed to pass until it is safe to do so. It isn't talking just about your safety. The cyclist's safety is just as important.
I've heard this little tidbit from several people who think cycling is a dangerous recreational sport, cyclists are allowed 18 inches of the edge of the pavement. Where on earth did they come up with this number? I'm 21 inches wide at the shoulders and I'm not a very beefy man. The attitude though is the same as the people who make the signs that allow a three feet gap between cyclists and motorists.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't want any part of a motorist/cyclist war. I think we should all be making life as pleasant as possible for each other on our roadways. As a cyclist, I try to be visible, although at 196 cm tall, I think the only way you can not see me is by not paying attention. I squeeze to the right and give as much room as possible for motorists to pass. I obey traffic signage.
All I'm asking of motorists is to think of the safety of cyclists.
I've been on the wrong end of a lot of unprovoked dangerous behaviour by motorists. I've had things thrown at me. I've had someone lay on the horn to deliberately scare my twin boys at five years old to crash. I've slid on my face through an intersection because someone cut me off. I've also t-boned someone who pulled out in front of me from a driveway. That's just the tip of the iceberg. None of those things should have ever happened.
I'll balance that though. I've also been the recipient of some genuine acts of courtesy that I appreciated. There was a broken fire hydrant in Riverview, New Brunswick on my route home from work. Six inches of water at least covered the road for about the length of a city block. A car passed through ahead of me and sent a curtain of water at least six feet high over the sidewalk. I am grateful to the guy riding that huge black 4X4 pickup, who blocked rush hour traffic so I could get through without getting wet.
I don't like cycling scofflaws either. Let's understand that we are all trying to go about our business safely. Driving safely is everyone's responsibility.