Illegal behaviour of cyclists
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
I am not a cyclist. I walk many places, or otherwise take transit. I don’t have a driver’s licence, although I am in a car sometimes. I live in East Vancouver, which is fortunately a pedestrian-friendly area. It’s also very friendly to bikes, although it seems cyclists frequently ignore the rules.
It was only recently I found out that it’s illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk. This was a surprise, as I see cyclists on sidewalks almost every day. There are many times when a cyclist has ridden behind and then passed me, with us both narrowly avoiding a collision. I thought this was just something you had to deal with. Nope. It’s for this exact reason that sidewalks are off limits.
Riding a bicycle is operating a vehicle, and is subject to the rules of the road. Bikes go faster than pedestrians, and can cause injury to the rider and the person they hit in a collision.
I support biking. I think it’s an excellent, healthy alternative to driving, and incredibly eco-friendly. Vancouver is prominent for cyclists and contains lots of designated greenways and bike paths. In these areas, pedestrians and cyclists coexist peacefully. This is due to wide-open pathways that are actually big enough to accommodate a bike and a pedestrian without anyone colliding. I like these pathways. They’re nicer looking than roads, and I’d fully support introducing more of them into the city.
Until then, cyclists, stay on the limited (but still numerous) bike paths, or on the roads. You do not get to take up both the road and the sidewalk. Pedestrians don’t get to walk on the road, either. By riding on the sidewalk, even if no one is around, you are potentially endangering yourself and people around you. It’s dangerous, it’s annoying, and remember—it’s illegal!
I understand biking can be dangerous on a road, particularly if you’re going uphill or in a busy area. Accidents involving cyclists happen far too often, and we all need to be more conscious about sharing transportation space. If you’re unable to safely and legally ride your bicycle in a certain area, maybe that’s an indication that you shouldn’t be riding a bike there. You’ll have to walk, drive, take transit, or taxi like everybody else.
While we’re at it—wear a damn helmet. It’s the law, and it keeps you safe. You may think you’re responsible for your own safety and can decide whether or not you need one, but it makes the difference between getting a bump on your head when you fall off and splattering your tiny brain all over the pavement. Even if you don’t care about that possibility, think of the people around you who have to witness that.