Monday 11 August 2008

The New York Times notices cycling! Well, road rage anyway...

This weekend the New York Times had an extensive article on the latest news from the front in the War Between Cyclists and Motorists. As the article notes, US motorists are simply unused to seeing cyclists and adding them to the traffic mix is going to lead to trouble until they become part of the normal scene. I am not sure if this situation will improve as the kinds of motorists referred to see the cyclists but behave in inappropriate ways towards them, even to the extent of criminal actions such as assault. Looking back again to my recent experience in Europe, I found that motorists in France were careful and courteous but the cyclists I saw were also riding responsibly. Riding in the Alps requires some skill and while this would not be expected from newcomers to cycling common sense, such as looking before moving into the road or not riding over pedestrians, should be exercised.

If I were riding regularly in the United States, I would be particularly concerned by the statement that cyclists lose two out of three court cases as juries are inherently hostile to them. The system that the Netherlands (and some other European countries, but I am not sure which) uses whereby a motorist is always deemed to be at fault unless otherwise proven seems to be much more logicial considering the potential for injury. A cyclist running a red light is a danger to him- or herself and an inconvenience to a motorist but the main argument motorists mention against cyclists in the article is that they delay traffic. Is this all going to get uglier in North America before it gets better?


Pedalman said...

I read the article as well and was disturbed by the reaction motorists have towards cyclists. I know that in Toronto it is far from ideal, but it's better than 5 years ago.
I don't agree that the blame should automatically be a drivers until proven otherwise. If a bike has the same rights as a car on the road, then the same governing laws should apply when it come to accidents.

Lily on the Road said...


Unfortunately, in West Carleton, cyclists put themselves in danger.

Just this weekend, I was travelling in my car westbound and approaching some cyclists from behind. They were three abreast, never once did anyone attempt to double or single file.

I was approaching the crest of a hill in the opposite lane, well sorry to say, on coming traffic takes priority. I did try to give as much room as possible to the cyclists but really, please move over.

Not every cyclist falls into the "duh" category, but really safety for cyclist and motorist come first...

Sprocketboy said...

One of my arguments when defending cyclists is that most of us are motorists too and can deal with cyclists when we drive. It does not help if the cyclists behave stupidly and make it that much harder for us.

The Ottawa Bicycle Club uses a double paceline with no more than 12 riders (2 x 6 abreast) on group rides. Motorists get annoyed but it is actually much easier for them to pass a compact, well-disciplined group like this than a larger group strung out all over the place.

In the case of the Netherlands, road rage is pretty well unheard of but I wonder if it less due to the law putting the onus on motorists in an incident than just the way things are in Holland. I am glad to hear that things have improved in Toronto, though!

Lily on the Road said...

When driving I always try to make way for the cyclist's, now that I have a Norco roadbike, I'm going to really need to gather my wits about me while riding in West Carleton, I won't be able to bail over to the shoulder of the road anymore like I could on my mountain bike.

Question for you and it may be crazy. Now that West Carleton is apart of Ottawa, do we really need a bell on a road bike? I'm very new to roadbiking and I suppose I should learn the rules.