Monday, April 20, 2015

What to do about rude drivers

As I was biking home from preschool Friday, I was approaching a traffic circle to turn right, & a young guy in an SUV came barrelling through the wrong way. His window was open so I said, "The wrong way around a traffic circle? Really?" His response was to yell, "Fuck you!" at me & my two small children.

Then two blocks later, as I was riding in the centre of the narrow curb lane (there isn't room for me & a vehicle to ride side by side so I take the lane for a couple hundred metres) I heard the single occupant of a massive truck say that I was "endangering my children" as he drove past me, wheels on the centre line between our lanes. I wish I could remember the company name that was plastered on the truck.

Within seconds of that encounter, another old guy in a small car was rubbernecking (seriously dude, have you never seen a cargo bike before?) & after he passed me, literally driving in the centre of the two lanes of traffic. Thankfully he corrected & returned to his own lane before the parked cars in the next block.

This is why cyclists hate drivers. Because this kind of stupidity happens all in the space of a 1km, five minute ride home from preschool. Because entitled jerks who are breaking laws & endangering people feel that they have a right to do so & tell me that I'm in the wrong.

Image adapted from: Pranav Bhatt via Compfight cc
I wasn't in danger in any of these situations, I ride defensively & keep my distance from vehicles, especially those driven by selfish idiots like these three guys. But it really gets me down that the only things I ever hear from drivers on the road are insults & baseless criticism.

If you're reading this, you're probably not one of those drivers. I know I'm just preaching to the choir here. But I don't know how to reach these drivers. I don't know how to make them understand that their sense of entitlement & dangerous antisocial behaviour makes them relics of the past. Dinosaurs.

What I think these guys want, is for all the cyclists & pedestrians to get off the road, out of their way. Which would mean into cars. But besides the fact that we don't all want to drive, we can't all drive everywhere. It's expensive, it's unhealthy to sit in a car all the time for distances you could bike or walk, it's polluting, it's dangerous. We literally don't have the space to keep building more lanes to move vehicle traffic through Metro Vancouver as the population continues to increase. The logical conclusion of this car-centric attitude is gridlock.

We can't keep driving our cities, our environment, our children, into the ground. We have to rethink how we get around & change to walking, cycling & mass transit a whole lot more. These dinosaur drivers aren't just going to give it to us, however. We need to carve out more space for active transportation & that means building infrastructure like light rail, bike lanes & better pedestrian crossings.

So here's what you can do. We've got a great opportunity for Metro Vancouver with the Mayors' Transportation plan. Voting yes & passing this plan in the referendum would make some serious headway in improving the options for active transportation. Then one day, with more bike infrastructure, maybe some of these dinosaurs will actually get out of their huge vehicles, try biking, & realize how awesome it is.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that besides pedestrians and bicyclists, motorcyclists are also a natural ally in this cause.

  2. Please consider getting cameras! I lived in Vancouver/North Vancouver for 15 years and now have been in Oakland, CA for almost 2. I have been a daily bike commuter the whole time including the last 3 years with my daughter both in a chariot trailer and a long tail cargo bike. The RCMP were fantastic when I called to report harassment by drivers and having video to show removes the uncertainty of a he said/she said situation. I have a front mounted Garmin Virb and a rear mounted Cycliq Fly 6 combo rear flashing red light and camera.

    I will also say that the drivers in the Metro Vancouver area are much less polite and much more prone to road rage against cyclist than here in the Bay Area-- which was a surprise to me when I moved. The media up there has done a HUGE disservice for public safety by trumpeting the "war on cars".

    Stay safe and have fun.


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