Over the past few days there has been lots of sadness and anger from the Car and Bicycle community over Monday night’s altercation that ended in the death of a bicycle courier.
It is hard to forget the personalities involved, who they were, what they did and what would have lead to this horrible result. Yes, this City was built mostly for cars and we now have a strong movement to make the streets more bicycle friendly.
I don’t cycle anymore because it is dangerous out there on the City streets. I have had too many friends who have been hurt riding bikes when there were no cars around. The roads are in worse shape then they have ever been and the Trolley tracks make cycling in Toronto an event more like the “Tour de France”.
That being said, I have watched the “Bicycle Courier” community and know that they are important part of the business transacted in Downtown Toronto. Their job is to get those documents to their destinations as quickly as possible. They even have races within the community, usually ride Racing Bikes and not the more suitable, Mountain Bikes. Couriers look at the streets of the City as a race track. They have a different agenda than most cyclists and I think we need to look at them apart from more traditional cyclists. We must be aware of the different goals of Bicyclists and Bicycle Couriers but we must also be aware of the similarities:
There are no licensing rules for bicycles. They seldom are held to the same rules of the road that car drivers are: driving on the wrong side of the road, on walk ways, the wrong way in bicycle lanes, through stoplights, through pedestrian walkways, not wearing helmets etc. When was the last time you saw a bicyclist signalling a turn or a lane change?
The bottom line is this: Bikes are vehicles that are on the street in vehicular lanes. Licensing should be universal. Car Drivers have to attach seat belts but only children have to wear head gear on bikes. Everyone must abide by all the rules of the road. Both are responsible but the playing field is not equal and sadly the outcome benefits the car driver because of the size of the car and the protection it provides.
Recently on visits to Vancouver and Quebec City, I noticed that they have put up 2 foot curbs between the car space and the bicycle lanes. They are truly separate spaces not one space with a painted line on it. If we’re really serious about bike lanes, let’s move them away from vehicle lanes, license bicyclists and enforce rules of the road.
Everyone must bear the responsibility of what transpired Monday night but let’s see some leadership on both sides.