Cycling Follow-up

July 5, 2016

It's been a bit of a crazy month; I've had visiting guests and a major writing deadline to hit, so had no chance to follow up on my cycling post, which went locally viral in the Vancouver area (the post is now responsible for about 15% of my total site views since 2006, when I started seriously tracking stats).

I've closed comments on that post, but apologize because the old comments are still there, just not visible. There's a bug with my WordPress theme that I'll have to sort out before they'll show up again. I'm not trying to stifle the existing discussion.

I touched enough of a nerve that CBC's On The Coast asked me in to chat, and did a companion article on CBC News. Two days later, so did CKNW's Jill Bennett show. Even Reddit got a hold of it. So that was weird, because I didn't set out to become the poster girl for civil cycling in Vancouver (especially given that sometimes I'm no angel, either). At any rate. Apparently I don't suck at radio :-)

Some commenters seem to think I was personally advocating licensing with that post. That's not actually true, although I'm not ready to dismiss some form of registration or licensing out of hand. It was that out of hand dismissal on the part of HUB, without any alternate solutions proposed, or even acknowledgement of an existing issue, that upset me.

Of the top of my head here are some things we could do.

Teach Cycling Road Rules, Etiquette and Safety in High School

I learned to bike from my parents when I was a kid. I learned the basics about road signs. But I learned many more road safety rules from driver's ed. Many of my friends' kids aren't going to take driver's ed, because our transit and cycling infrastructure is so good. So where are they going to learn about things like shoulder checks (which saved me from hitting a jogger on my bike the other day), less obvious road rules like roundabouts, proper lane position and right of way? I don't trust parents to teach all these things either; the day after I wrote my post I caught a parent letting their kid ride their bike across the marina pedestrian-only bridge. This person thought the rules didn't apply to their child because their child was "small".

More VPD Bike Patrols

I know we have a bike patrol unit. If I see them once a year, I'm doing well. I see cop cars patrolling the roads regularly. I don't see the cop cyclists.

More Studies With Better Data

ICBC does not track cyclist collisions that do not involve motor vehicles. The BICE study out of UBC looked at hospitalizations involving cyclists, but there's a strong suspicion that accidents and other incidents between cyclists and pedestrians are underreported. If cycling is a core of the city's transportation plan, there should be more funding to research these types of incidents, since the number of cyclists on the road will continue to rise, and we'll see more accidents, but we don't even know how bad the problem really is. There's some evidence out of the UK that indicates that even though the absolute number of pedestrians injured by cyclists is lower than by cars (because there are fewer cyclists on the roads), per billion kilometres traveled, cyclists are almost as dangerous to pedestrians as cars.

Mandatory Road Safety Course Upon Citation

If you get a cycling ticket, maybe you should be required to take an online road safety refresher test. The longer you go without taking the test, the more money gets tacked onto your fine. Maybe this should also apply to car drivers.

Some of these ideas are half-baked at best, I'll admit. But at least they're ideas, and not outright dismissals. Discussion needs to be had, because my post obviously touched a nerve. And if you touch a nerve, there's usually a pain point that needs resolving.

My neighbour is on the mend, but still not home. AFAIK, the cyclist who injured him has not been caught. Thanks to everyone for their concern.

One comment on “Cycling Follow-up”

  1. Hi Kat: Short of a pricey, multi media ad campaign, cycling could stand additional media exposure to help it grow more positively here in Vancouver. All your points about the high percentage of entitled yahoos that are out there are true...and yes, the same kind of personality prevails on four wheels thinking they have more rights. If there could be a sponsor pool organized that could approach a local radio station with a short feature to start with strictly on cycling, that could clean up a lot of the bad karma that has shown up with the topic for awhile. Maybe you could be the spokes person or someone from Hub. Just an idea. Cheers, Tom

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