Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Thursday, October 7, 2010
CBC's Bike Story
The CBC's report on active transportation was supplied in large part by Bike to the Future who indicated that drivers are taking their anger out on bikes.
I see this as pushback to try and gain sympathy for the bike lobby. I certainly have concern for bikes who may have had close calls but I am less sympathetic to some in the bike lobby who were intimately involved in the planning of the pathways being constructed now. While some of the paths are safe and effective transportation routes, there are several that put bikes, pedestrians and drivers in conflict.
The CBC takes the angle that bikes have been the recipients of anger without looking into the anger some on bikes have to people in cars.
A few times over the years, I have had to drive down Wellington Crescent to pick-up or drop off someone who lived on the street on a Sunday. On a few occasions, I have been yelled at by people on bikes even though I was driving at a Sunday driver pace. It has been a number of years since I have had to drive someone on this route but I have heard more than once about aggressive cyclists confronting residents who are trying to get to their homes. On numerous occasions I have seen the barricades on Sunday placed over the entire road which I have been told is done by some cyclists to block all road traffic despite the signs that say local traffic of residents is allowed.
It is very belligerent behaviour on the part of some. CBC would do well to ask people who lived on the Wellington Crescent about what they have had to face since the 1970s.
It isn't like aggressive actions of bikes have not been recorded in Canada. Ontario's former Attorney-General was attacked and in terror for his life fled someone on a bike who was after him. That clash resulted in the cyclist being killed. All charges dropped against the former AG were dropped after witness accounts and video of the incident was reviewed.
There is no excuse for not giving bikes room on the street. However, the bike lobby should take responsibility for some of the conflicts that their involvement in the planning of these routes has caused. I don't know that it is possible to honestly say that the existence of white stripes on Winnipeg roads will provide a safe zone for bikes. They barely create safe zones for cars.
The safest routes for bikes to take are ones that are dedicated to bikes and pedestrians. This shouldn't be done by throwing residents, businesses and organizations like churches under the bus by taking away access to their homes, their parking or cutting their trees down.
My personal opinion remains that the conflict on Assiniboine Avenue could have been avoided if the city had looked more carefully at using the center median of Broadway Avenue. Likewise, I think in River Heights, the city could have used the center of Wellington Crescent or if residents approved, they could have converted the north sidewalk of Grosvenor Avenue to bike path and the south side to pedestrian path.
I don't know if there is a solution for Berry Street. However, when I look at the picture of the street:
I wonder if it was possible to do something different than shave off 1.5 metres of boulevard on each side of a narrow street? Was it possible to just make the sidewalks slightly larger and place stripes down to separate the pedestrians and bikes (they seem to co-exist most of the time along the Assiniboine Park routes). It certainly might have been an idea to bounce off residents.
The CBC should have looked a little bit farther than cyclists being victims of selfish or oblivious drivers. Much of the conflict now is because the main bike lobbies were driven to get their paths in without thinking of the consequences.