For those unawares, the City of Calgary recently unveiled their proposed cycling strategy. Cyclists in Calgary are obviously excited and I’m sure visions of a Portland-esque cycling wonderland are dancing through many a-cyclists mind.
However, this post isn’t about getting into the details of the strategy, nor my thoughts on it – This post is about how simple, daily actions are unravelling things before this strategy even has the ability to gain traction.
During the ride home last night it was apparent that the rest of Calgary was as eager as I was to watch Vancouver’s dreams turn to dust. Traffic, though not frantic, was heavier than usual.
Reaching the lights at a busy intersection another cyclist pulled up to my side. After exchanging pleasantries he asked me if we were going to “take the lane” over the next block. Since the street had a dedicated bike lane running down it I felt no qualms about taking the lane – I almost always do so down this busy stretch of road anyway.
We bantered back and forth over the next block or so about the state of the cycling strategy, road conditions and other cycling miscellany to pass the time.
Upon noticing how congested the next intersection was, my cycling ‘comrade’ offered me the lead to ‘thread the needle’ up to the light, which I took – Again, without to much concern. Though not a behaviour I overtly ‘approve’ of, depending on how backlogged traffic is I do rely on this manoeuvre from time to time.
The following intersection was even more congested and I offered the lead to the other cyclist. He blasted through the cars considerably faster than I was willing to, which didn’t really bother me too much, since when it comes to traffic I’m definitely not the most aggressive rider out there. It’s what happened next that really rattled me…
Upon clearing the left most row of cars (it narrowed to 1 lane at the end), this cyclist leaned leftward over the hood of the last car, slapped it a few times and then pointed angrily to his left.
I *understand* what the cyclist was *trying* to say, and can even *sympathize* with the the sentiment… *Technically* the rightmost lane was *ours* as it is a marked cycling lane, but I mean… Come on. Really? Who does he think he’s kidding?!?!
Take a step back and put yourself in the drivers seat pal.
There you are sitting comfortably in your Sunfire waiting to get a piece of the other lane… You’ve got your signal light on, somebody is going to let you in eventually. Then when you finally start inching forward some crazy cyclist cuts you off, slams his fist on the hood of your car and shakes his hand at you.
I don’t know about you guys, but if I had been behind the wheel that would have likely done three things:
- Scared the shit out of me
- Made me pretty damn mad at that cyclist
- Taken me a step closer to writing off all cyclists in general (if not taking me over the edge completely)
Does this help foster the symbiotic, give-and-take relationship we need with motorists? I think not.
I’m all for enforcing laws that support cyclists, but I don’t think hitting cars, waving our arms around and yelling at motorists are tactics that are doing anything to help our cause.
Come on guys. Shape up. This is not how we do it.
(In hindsight I probably should have said something to the other rider, but I think that his actions literally shocked and embarassed me enough that I needed another block to process what had just happened – That, and the fact that I’m just not a confrontational guy by nature.)