Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The old "bike /car" debate rears it's ugly head again

Apologies for the delay in posts for my two regular readers.

I was spurred out of my writers block by a cyclist this afternoon. She was about the age of the cyclist tho penned an article in the FreeP last weekend.

The antics of the young woman cycling west on Ellice at 5:25 were stupefying. At Balmoral, she passed a bus that was stopped at a stop... on the sidewalk. She rode on the road from Balmoral to Spence where the bus finally passed her, giving her the obligatory meter. She hopped up onto the sidewalk, where she continued on up to Sherbrook, and then crossed back onto the curb lane. Did I mention that she crossed Sherbrook on a red? Sure, the east bound lanes of Ellice have a protected left turn signal, and there were no cars, but still... I can make great time with my all wheel drive SUV on the sidewalk, and can likely push most cars out of my way if I install a decent bush bar.
I was SOOOO hoping I could clip her helmet with my passenger mirror, but she wisely veered off (without signalling) north bound on Agnes. Good riddance.

What the writer of the article failed to understand, is that Winnipeg drivers are typically stuck travelling twenty minutes in traffic for a trip that really should take less than half that. The same drive on Ellice in the morning from Arlington to Hargrave can take almost as long as riding a bike due to poorly sequenced lights and other horrific traffic planning details. Cyclists (by and large) rub salt in the wounds of drivers by passing them on the right hand side, forcing the car to pass them again (and again, and again) adding to the delay, they skip up onto the sidewalk when it suits them, blow through lights and stop signs.... need I go on?

Sure, I know that loosing momentum at a light or a stop sign requires effort to get up to speed again. I know that sitting in line in the curb lane means I'm sucking in exhaust fumes from the cars waiting around me. I know that stopping at a light when it's safe to proceed, especially at a one way, (where right turns aren't permitted on red for whatever unknown reason) makes NO sense, BUT as someone using a vehicle on the road (highway), I am obliged to follow the rules.

So are cyclists, and here lies the crux of the problem. Bike to the Future, the Cycling Association, and all the other Birkenstock wearing, tree hugging, granola crunching, NDP voting, composting experts (Rob Altemeyer et al) figure they can be indignant about the lack of infrastructure for a mode of transportation that will NEVER be replaced in Winnipeg. The car.

We live in one of the coldest major cities on the planet, and while some of these fools may think cycling in the winter is "cool", I think someone should do them a favour, and ride over their bike the next time one of those idiots falls over in front of them (providing the rider is clear of the bike). Riding a bicycle with snow/ice on the road should be against the law, plain and simple. You are NOT riding in control. I once watched one of these clowns fall off their bike in the intersection, get back on, fall again, get back on... Catch on already!

Back to the article in the FreeP, specifically the comments section, one poster nailed it. Darren Gundmundson posted the following,

I am an avid driver.

I am an avid cyclist.

As a cyclist I hate cars; as a driver I hate cyclists.

Perhaps contradictory, but I am human. As such, when placed in situations that are, for the most part, unreasonable, avoidable, and untenable - on occasion I will lash out at those around me. It is because I am frustrated at the situation.

On most days, the five kilometre drive that I take from my house near Main and Inkster, to downtown takes twenty-five to thirty minutes, both ways. Between the ill-timed lights, photo radar, buses darting in and out, drivers who think the speed limit is 20 kmh, multiple cross walks, stoned pedestrians, and crumbling infrastructure - this City has become intolerable.

As a cyclist, the trip takes about five minutes less, but I have to shoulder check each and every vehicle, avoid the same stoned pedestrians, suck in gallons of diesel fumes from the buses, stop nearly every block, and avoid wrecking because of the, again, crumbling infrastructure.

Think about this.

In the past four decades Winnipeg has grown from 500,000 to over 750,00 people. Yet, in that time the City has actually reduced the number of lanes available to traffic. It is absolutely insane.

We are growing, yet the City reduces the lanes of traffic.

We need a Freeway system that actually helps people get in and out of downtown.

This frees up the non-thoroughfare lanes for bikes and blades, and alleviates driver frustration.

Make is easier for people to get around, stop this nonsense of taking away lanes of traffic and letting our roads crumble

Well said Darren. It's amazing how eloquently you summed up the problems faced by Winnipeg drivers with such few words, none of them profane.

Mayor Katz. Any chance you could get Darren in a position that might have him direct things down at Streets and Transportation? Maybe he could replace Louis? You don't need a traffic engineer for that job. I know this, because the engineer you have is doing SUCH a bad job, someone without a degree can certainly do better. Traffic should be intuitive. Go to the corner, watch traffic and see if it works (or doesn't work) and then fix it. In Winnipeg, we put up all kinds of "no left turn" signs when traffic tries to get off a major road to travel on residential streets. That's NOT fixing the problem you dolts! Fixing the problem would be making the traffic on the major route actually MOVE.

As for any cyclists reading this, I'll pass you ONCE and give you your meter (3') space, but be warned, if you pass me on the right, hop the sidewalk, or blow the next light, you're fair game... watch for my mirror, or if I'm lucky enough to have a passenger, the door.


  1. A very simple fix for this issue is a driver advocate which today is non existent. (even though we have formal advocates for every other party desirous of some of that road space or budget)Marty and I have been talking about this for years and as part of our campaign to change the city's consultation process, some form of an advocate or at least a protocol for consultation is starting to look like a possibility.

  2. As a cyclist I hate seeing the behaviour you described. I have enough on the road to worry about without dickhead cyclists riding stupid and pissing off drivers. All I want is for drivers not to think they can pass me without moving into the next lane. I don't think that's too much to ask. I act and behave like any other vehicle on the road, just treat me like one.

    As for Bike to the Future and the city's AT committee, I'm convinced that they pick projects to fund on the basis of what will get the most stories ( and therefore their name) in the paper most often. There are several stretches of infrastructure that are incomplete and should be finished ( at low cost) before these new projects are done. The best thing they could do would be the cheapest - get out spray paint and paint some bike lanes!