Saturday, 12 October 2013

time to have a field day with absurdity, or, now you have really pissed me off

This takes the cake (a direct cut and paste from the KW Record, our local rag, follows):

Road Ahead: Cycling commute goes wrong and it’s no surprise

Waterloo Coun. Diane Freeman started commuting by bicycle last year. She hoped to inspire others by showing that anyone can do it.
Last month a car hit her on Northfield Drive. She hit her head on the road. She needs physiotherapy to help recover from back injuries, road rash and whiplash. The driver was ticketed $110 for failing to yield.
"I'm on the mend," she says. She expects a full recovery, but it will take time. It will not keep her off her bicycle. "I choose not to live in fear."
Admire her pluck. But the lesson most easily drawn is the opposite of what she intended — riding a bicycle to work is dangerous and counter to common sense.
Many people cycle for recreation, often away from traffic. Relatively few in this region cycle for meaningful transportation, despite noisy promotion by cycling advocates and city halls trying to appear green. Just one per cent of regional commuters — 2,820 people — rode bicycles to work in 2011 according to Statistics Canada. That number is insignificant as a transportation share. And it's not growing.
Residents have many reasons to shun bicycle commuting. There's winter and distance and geography. Above all there's safety. People feel unsafe riding bicycles in traffic.
A 2008 survey found that most local cyclists choose to ride unlawfully on sidewalks or on boulevards even if cycling lanes are painted on the road. People ride where they feel comfortable and painted lanes add little comfort.
Freeman argues that drivers and cyclists need to learn how to share the road. She's not wrong, but exhorting people to get along will not persuade more people to cycle to work. To make people feel safe bicycles must be separated from traffic. Even then, odds are long that commuter cycling will ever take hold.
Freeman did everything right. She wore a helmet and reflective gear. She rode carefully in traffic. Yet it still went wrong in a collision that was not her fault, and she got hurt. She understands that this will confirm for some that cycling to work is dangerous and unwise. "That would make me sad," she says.

Jeff Outhit can be reached at 519-895-5642 or .

Ok, let's have some fun...

Winter: a non issue. If you want to ride in the winter, all you have to do is dress appropriately, and use the correct tires.

Unsafe in traffic: Really? I wonder why that is? Could it be that motorized traffic is an actual hazard? Could it be that the real problem is not people riding bicycles but people driving cars? Or perhaps people's inability to get along in a civilized manner? See my comments below for answers!

Riding to work is dangerous and counter to common sense: Do the math. I did. If I ride to work, I am fitter, have fewer sick days, am more productive at work, and save a tonne of money. For me, it works out to about $3000 a year saved. The reduced mileage load on my car will come close to doubling the life of my car. This means I will buy close to half the number of cars in my working life vs what I would buy if I drove to work every day. This means that I am up well over $200 000 in transportation costs over the length of my working life if I ride my bike to work every day. Against common sense? I would suggest you do the math. And dangerous? Only when people demonstrate a shocking lack of competence behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle OR when the cyclist chooses to flout the law and act like an idiot (which does happen, just like it does with people driving).

 2820 people: Thank you for calling me insignificant. Classy.


But now for the truly fun part. The comments in the paper. That is where people here really shine. I am leaving the names out of it since I want to focus on what was said and published on The Record's webpage by their readership rather than on the person him or herself.

Comment number 1:

  ***** | OCTOBER 12, 2013 07:00 PM
As a cyclist AND driver, I find it frustrating that people separate the two and feel that cyclist should pay a fee for using the roads or worse they should stay off the roads. I already pay fees as a driver and taxpayer. Why should I have to pay a fee to enjoy a sport that is also helping me to stay healthy and fit? How much money will staying in shape and healthy save health care? Enough to add more bike lanes? More people should be cycling and feeling safe doing so shouldn’t be a concern. Perhaps more education for both ( motorists and cyclists) along with more respect and consideration of each other there is enough room for cyclists and motorists to share the roads safely.

Good questions. Most cyclists are drivers. Fact of life, but one that is conveniently forgotten when the ranting starts. I have said it here before that people need to start treating each other as people. Until that starts, and we stop referring to each other as a demographic sub-unit, we are never going to get anywhere in solving this problem.

Comment number 2:

By ***** | OCTOBER 12, 2013 02:37 PM
Cycling on any city street is dangerous whether or not there is a bike lane. On top of that, too many (the majority in my experience), don't obey the rules of the road creating hazards for drivers. I agree with *****, "Blowing money on infrastructure for cyclists is absolutely insane in Canada". The money would be much better spent on mass transit. Yea, cyclist pay taxes but not nearly enough to justify the hugely expensive infrastructure required to accommodate their small but vocal numbers. This ain't California folks. Take a bus.
It is hard to know where to start with this one. 
Yes, a lot of cyclists break the rules. I won't deny it. It is truth. I see it happen all the time. Couldn't agree more. Yep. It is a pain in the ass for motorists and cyclists alike. Every time I see a cyclist do something stupid - like run a red light, dive in and out of traffic, etc - I wince. I wonder, how much is that person misbehaving going to increase the animosity on our roads towards people on bicycles? When will some unstable person driving reach the tipping point and take it out on me? For the record, while not perfect, I do my very best to follow the rules. I don't run stop signs, red lights, cut in and out of traffic, or behave in an unpredictable manner. I signal what I am doing. I wait my turn. Etc etc. But I have been badly treated by people who have huge anger for those on bikes, and I too am irritated when I see people contributing to that anger.

Ever watch people drive? 
How about the person who almost killed me the other day when he cut the corner? Or the young lady driving and weaving all over while texting, or the other driver with her carload of kids who blew out of an intersection the wrong way on a one way street narrowly missing the front of my car, or the lady in the Merc who almost sideswiped me in a roundabout two days ago while I was moving through it in my car safely, or the masses of people doing 40 plus over the limit in the 70 zone on the freeway, or the people who routinely tailgate me when I do the speed limit in my car, or... I could go on, but you get the drift, right?

If we are going to get all bent out of shape about people misbehaving on bicycles, why not get as bent out of shape or even MORE bent out of shape when people are unsafe in a vehicle that weighs in at about two tonnes? 

Tell ya what, let's stop kidding ourselves. People break the rules. How they choose to get around has little to nothing to do with it.

Cyclists pay taxes but not nearly enough? Not enough to cover infrastructure to meet our needs? Really? As a cyclist, I just need the road. MUPS are nice, but all I really need is the roadway and I pay for it the same way everyone else does, through municipal taxes. We both contribute to our infrastructure. Yes, gas tax makes a contribution, but only to road resurfacing around here (and it is motor vehicles pounding on roads with their heavy mass and the weather - not bicycles - which wear out roadways). It is worth remembering that "bike paths" are actually shared paths for the use of anyone not in a motor vehicle - hence the term MUP (multi-use path). Bike lanes on the road surface are just another traffic lane and are paid for out of the municipal tax base which all of us contribute to. They are a diamond lane yes, and are only for bicycles yes, but that is no different than diamond lanes for buses or taxis or whatever which are also paid for out of general funding.
If we accept though the argument that municipal taxes from non cyclists should not go towards "cycling infrastructure" - an illogical idea since the roadway is cycling infrastructure by definition, let's do the flip side as well. I now flatly refuse to waste any more of MY share of public money maintaining the expressway. Ever again. Why should my tax dollars go to pay for that when I cannot ride my bike there?

Regarding transit, it is wonderful, as long as it goes where you need it to go. I know a person for whom her daily commute, each way, would be 1 hour, 45 minutes by transit in KW. 1 hour and 45 minutes. Each way. It takes her 10 to 15 minutes to drive it, and me about 30-35 minutes to cover it by bike. Transit is great and wonderful, but a person needs to live on and work on a route with good service in order to use it. All too often, it simply is not reliable or efficient enough. I do however agree that better funding of transit is a good idea.

Comment number 3:

By ***** | OCTOBER 12, 2013 02:28 PM
Why is it the motorist responsibility to fund infrastructure for cyclists???????. I suggest the government begin collecting user fee's and additional taxes on cycling products/repairs fund an pay for this "needed" infrastructure. People seem to believe that motorists don't even pay enough to support their roads......and now you want them to pay for this aswell?????. Well you can't have it both ways, either we don't pay enough for our own roads, or we pay to much AND now we apparently "need" to pay for this too. MAKE UP YOUR MIND PEOPLE.
I agree. Let's collect user fees for bike trails. Great idea. I will gladly pay them. But, tomorrow, car drivers will have to pay a toll to leave their driveways. Sorry, but that expensive infrastructure for automobiles has to be paid for somehow, and apparently, the idea that we collectively pay for it through our municipal taxes does not work for some. I propose we follow this through to its logical end though. Let's do what some places in Europe do and when a person renews his or her license plate every year, he or she will have to pay a per km driven fee to pay for road upkeep. That sounds fair. This way, those that use it the most and wear it out the most pay for it the most.
Capital idea. Thank you for thinking of it. Because hey, if it is good for people on two wheels, it must be twice as good for people on four, right?

See this (not unrelated, but merely proof that some places are acting to make motorists who drive more pay more for the added wear on the roads everyone contributes to):
in which we discover that yes, gas tax is used for resurfacing of roads, but wait, all the rest of it comes from general revenues we all pay towards.

Comment number 4:
By ***** | OCTOBER 12, 2013 11:39 AM
Blowing money on infrastructure for cyclists is absolutely insane in Canada where you are lucky to get 5-6 months of bikeable weather. Why not create a user pay model just like cars and is being proposed for garbage? Require bikes to be licensed if they use the road. Charge a fat fee and use those funds to build swimming pools in the councilors' backyards and maybe a couple bike lanes. This is the future of government funding. Why should cyclists be immune? 
Where do this person live? Five or six months a year of bike weather? Even if the idea is accepted that biking in the winter is not doable (it is), we have closer to eight months a year, nine most of the time, where biking is easy. Ohh yah, and please bring on the user fees! I would love them! See my above comments on where roads are funded and the very good idea about charging YOU a more appropriate user fee for how you choose to get around. Don't like that idea? Then get off the road you freeloader! :)

Comment number 5: 
By ***** | OCTOBER 12, 2013 10:39 AM
Anytime you impede the natural flow of traffic, you create a hazard. If I drove my car at half the speed limit, I could get a ticket...and rightfully so...Common sense dictates, that bikes should be either banned from the road, or they should have their own separate lanes or paths....Only a complete idiot could think, that an unprotected cyclist weighing in around 200lbs is somehow safe, being continuously passed by vehicles averaging 20x his/hers weight at 4x the speed and sometimes inches away...People, whom are pushing for more bikes on the road are blinded by various agendas, but the laws of physics are not on their side and neither is logic or common sense....
This commentor is absolutely correct. But not, perhaps, in the way that he or she thinks.

What it is though is time to go after people who are driving inches away from a cyclist weighing in at around 200lbs in their vehicle averaging 20x his/hers (sic) weight at 4x the speed. Good idea. Guess what? The issue is not the cyclist who is doing what the highway traffic act demands, but rather motorists NOT doing what the highway traffic act demands in the scenario laid out above. 
Oh yes, and people pushing for more bicycles on the road are not the only ones blinded by various agenda.
See the following: our highway traffic act...
Vehicles meeting bicycles
(4)  Every person in charge of a vehicle on a highway meeting a person travelling on a bicycle shall allow the cyclist sufficient room on the roadway to pass. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (4).
Not a criticism of the comment, but the couple of inches mentioned above does not cut it under the highway traffic act...
Bicycles overtaken
(6)  Every person on a bicycle or motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle or equestrian to pass and the vehicle or equestrian overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (6).

Makes sense, but more on that later...

Slow vehicles to travel on right side
147.  (1)  Any vehicle travelling upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at that time and place shall, where practicable, be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 147 (1).

Uh oh, now we have trouble. (Oh, we all know that a bicycle is a vehicle right?)

As close as practicable is the problem here as it is something that is open to interpretation. Remember in urban environments like King Street in Uptown Waterloo which has parked cars on both sides, and two lanes in each direction, as close a practicable actually means the middle of the right hand lane away from parked car doors. This means that car drivers have to show some patience for the slower moving vehicle, and the slower moving vehicle needs to move to the side WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO, which may or may not be when the driver behind thinks they should.

Also, remember that potholes, garbage, parked cars, shattered pavement, sewer grates, etc may require a cyclist to move over to the left. They should move back after though.

Comment number 6:
By ***** | OCTOBER 12, 2013 09:30 AM
Making the roads safer for cycling would in all probability make commuting by bicycle a more attractive option. Of course this would come a cost which could easily covered by a user fee which could easily be covered by a bicycle licensing bylaw.
How exactly would charging a fee to a cyclist make the roads safer when charging licensing fees to automobile drivers do not? 

From Transport Canada:

Fatalities and Injuries By Age Group 2010

Age groups (Yrs) Fatalities Serious Injuries Injuries (Total)
0–4 18 110 2,342
5–14 43 391 7,200
15–19 234 1,317 19,841
20–24 277 1,466 21,532
25–34 321 1,983 30,734
35–44 293 1,618 25,775
45–54 347 1,748 26,026
55–64 269 1,220 16,861
65 + 406 1,136 14,679
Not Stated 19 237 5,639
Total 2,227 11,226 170,629
Cause, that looks safe to me! NOT! What people should be up in arms about are those numbers. That folks, is disgusting. Really disgusting. How much does bad driving cost our health care system? Individuals in insurance? The economy in lost productivity? Our air quality? Pain and suffering for the people directly involved and their families?
Traffic and Health
carsVehicle exhaust - Roadway traffic is a significant source of the air pollution that affects human health in Toronto. Toronto Public Health released a report stating that traffic related air pollution contributes to about 440 premature deaths and 1,700 hospitalizations per year in Toronto. The report outlines potential solutions to reduce vehicle emissions and improve health.
I could go on, but I don't want to get in the way of anyone's agenda... 

1 comment:

  1. Frankly, there's no arguing with people who'd elect Robs Fords in a heartbeat. I doubt very much those geniuses Perilass or Dumomaniac have passed so much as a basic maths or civics course to understand a) how roads are actually paid for and b) how much THEIR lifestyle costs us all. Exhibit A. Tuesday, instead of cycling to work, I drove the car. On the way to work I was involved in a collision because some cretin decided to make a right turn into my path when I had the advanced green. Because of this person's inattention it is now going to cost about $2500 to repair the right front panel, renew the passenger side mirror and about $1500 to repair the other guy's vehicle. Then there is the cost of giving me (and likely him as well) a rental car for four days whilst the car is repaired. Then there is lost productivity of a trip to the Collision Reporting Centre (never mind the cost of operating that centre) and the attending aggravation of police officers who feel it's their duty to try to make members of the general public look stupid. Then the cost of processing insurance claims, the salary of adjusters etc etc. If we had both been on bikes this collision might have resulted in scratched paint and a few scrapes. So the foolishness of one person behind the wheel of their car has cost us all about $7-8000 despite there being no actual physical injuries and resulting A/B costs Automobile accidents alone cost us millions a year in this region never mind all the other costs associated with our addiction to the automobile. Yet these costs are considered normal and acceptable. Then these CRETINS have the audacity to bitch and moan about a few hundred thousand here and there to make roads safer for ALL road users. To hell with them and Outhit too for providing a platform for their appalling lack of concern for anyone but themselves. .