Biking to work
Metro Vancouver has a beautiful mild climate that is well-suited to a year-round commute via bicycle.
As winter approaches and it’s been getting darker, I’ve been joining my wife on her biking commute back and forth from work.
🚲 Biking to work is great for:
- The environment 🌲
- Your health 💪
- Your budget 💲
Why drive and pay for gas, parking, and a gym membership when you can get all the health benefits of a spin class for free every day during your commute?
The dangers of biking
There are some downsides, however. Biking in a North American suburban environment can sometimes be dangerous. Our transportation network is built for cars, and we are only just starting to transform it into a more bike and pedestrian-friendly system.
Despite decking our bikes out with lights and wearing reflective materials, we’ve already experienced a few bike/car conflicts.
Perhaps something can be learned from these examples.
Bike-car conflict #1
In one case, on a narrow residential street lined with parked cars on each side, a car passed us and then cut directly in front of us, pulled over to the right, and stopped – pushing us into the parked cars and cutting us off.
It was clear he had seen us, since he had to go around, but for some reason, he couldn’t wait until we had passed to stop.
Since he had nearly hit my wife, I was extremely upset and confronted him about the incident. Sadly, he seemed completely unaware of what had just transpired, and how close he had come to hitting a cyclist.
Bike-car conflict #2
Then, just the other morning, my wife and I were approaching an uncontrolled intersection when a car turned right in front of us and cut us off again, waving to us as we braked hard so we wouldn’t run into him.
For him, a crash might have left his side door slightly dented, but for us, it could have meant a trip over over the handlebars and straight to the local hospital!
Was it really necessary to pull out in front of us like that? Would have he done the same in front of an oncoming car?
After all that rushing, he had to wait at a stop sign just ahead, so I asked if he might not mind yielding to cyclists in the future. Again, I was presented with a dumbfounded look that indicated he didn’t really understand what just happened.
Now don’t get me wrong, for the most part, drivers are extremely courteous, sometimes even yielding to bikes when the law doesn’t technically require them to.
So to all the drivers out there who are paying attention, give way when they don’t have to, and give us lots of space, please accept our heart-felt thanks! 🙏
The City of Port Coquitlam is doing a great job putting in new biking infrastructure, but there are still some areas that need some work.
The worst sections are where biking infrastructure abruptly comes to an end, and cyclists are forced to either merge with busy traffic, or come up onto the sidewalk, where they can quickly be involved in cyclist-pedestrian conflicts.
Please give cyclists a brake!
Consider this: As a car driver, is it worth putting another human being in the hospital, or perhaps even killing them to save a bit of time?
Is it really worth losing your driver’s license, and getting sued into bankruptcy, just so you can arrive at your destination 20 seconds sooner?
So please, if you’re driving in your nice, comfy warm car and see a cyclist pedaling down the road on a dark, wet night, please do your best to give them a little extra space and courtesy.