From my experiences and conversations with other Toronto cyclists, it seems there is little agreement on proper bike lane etiquette. Not surprising in a city that boasts over 900,000 cyclists. One thing though seems clear: we cyclists are generally a free-spirited lot when it comes to the rules of the road or, like myself, downright contemptuous of those regulations.
Really. If I wanted to stop at red lights and stay off the sidewalks, I’d still be driving a car. Not that I expect others to follow my unscrupulous behavior, but spare me the sing-songing, “red light” as I blaze through the intersection.
“It’s my preference to stop at streetcar doors and red lights so don’t get pissy with me because you want to blast through,” says regular bike commuter, Nick Gamble. “Equally, if I feel it’s pointless to wait at a long red light with no traffic in sight, don’t play the self-righteous law-and-order freak. There are enough of those on four wheels.”
Speaking of four wheelers, writer Bryen Dunn feels it’s important to gain the respect of car drivers by adhering to the rules of the road, showing them that we belong there too.
“Forget the drivers, what about those pedestrians wandering all over the bike lanes of the waterfront recreation trails, ” leisure rider, Tom Roberts wants to know. Case in point for the bike bell which, given the number of cyclists, is seldom heard in bike lanes.
“It’s a bike lane, singular,” adds Nick, “so I will be riding in the middle of it and taking up the whole lane. If you want to pass me, pull out.” And as for newbie cyclists at stoplights: “I don’t have to make way for you and if you’re shaky on start up, make sure no one is about to pass you when the light turns green. Don’t wobble into me nearly knocking me over and then freak out because I “shouldn’t have been passing you at the light.”
“Waiting for the green light at an intersection isn’t a lineup at the ATM,” adds veteran cyclist, Ben Smith Lea. “Nobody’s going to read your PIN number. Bikes work best when they bunch up and clear the intersection together in a swarm – more visible, quicker and safer. So welcome the herd and ditch the queue mentality.”
So what’s a poor cyclist to do?
1. Avoid bike lane crazies by riding on the sidewalk – legal if your wheels are 24 inches or less – works best if you can convince the cop you’re under 16.
2. Move to Los Angeles. Void of pedestrian traffic, LA sidewalks offer plenty of room for all cyclists – even big wheelers and it’s all legal.
3. Wear earplugs so you can’t hear the insults from other riders.
4. No bike rage – avoid confrontations at any cost and, if necessary, see #3.