When cycling in the city, the car always wins.

Last Updated: May 12, 2013  By Observations for Toronto’s Cyclists (Michael’s Essay)

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At last, spring or something approximating it, is spreading across the winter nation.  Magnolias are out, cherry blossoms have come and gone, Stanley Cup playoffs drag endlessly on. 

Birds are heard once again and small furry things attack returning lawn cover and fresh garbage.

And along our busy streets and roadways, lines of helmeted bicycle riders set out for home, office and school.

The cycling season is back.

Already I have been nearly knocked down twice.

The first time was by a young woman who ran a red light while I was crossing  the street with the green.

The second was by a helmeted, clearly safety conscious grown up man tearing along the sidewalk.

The cycling season  will really get underway when city politicians start screaming about  the war on cars and cycling groups start screaming about equal rights with cars.

I’ve been riding a bike in the big city since I was eleven. I have been doored twice and fell off once when my front tire blew out. And I have always stayed away from passing cars.

Cyclists today are more aggressive. They challenge the car driver openly as they fight for space.

They also don’t have much time for the rules of the road, rarely stopping for red lights or stop signs. 

The other day as I was stopped on my bike at a red light, the cyclist behind me kept ringing her bell to get me to move.

A few years ago I did my own survey count at a four way stop of cyclists who obeyed the sign. Out of 34 cyclists, 32 ran the stop sign.

Each weekday morning I watch a father, carrying a very small child in a kiddy seat, negotiate one of the busiest streets in the city in the middle of the block before riding  the wrong way on a one-way street.

So…a couple of things as the season gets underway:

First of all, in a confrontation with a car, the car always wins.

Secondly, our large cities are not bicycle friendly. City politicians for the most part pay little attention to the needs of cyclists. Who can forget that Toronto’s dysfunctional city council spent nearly $300,000 to tear up a bicycle only lane. 

Thirdly, we are securely in the Stone Age when compared to major European cities.

Europeans long ago recognized the value of bicycle transportation and have effectively planned their cities with that core value in mind.

Bike riding in the big city should be a safe, pleasurable, efficient, smart way to augment public transit and get around.

Instead we have turned it into some crazy kind of competition  which we can’t win. 

Without a truce, or at least a ceasefire, combatants are going to get hurt.