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Steve Wallace: Spring Has Sprung, so Be Careful Out on the Roads

As spring arrives with longer daylight hours, traffic expands to include all sorts of non-motorized options. Getting accustomed to this springtime reality can force a motor-vehicle driver reboot. Here is a suggested road map: Actively look for cyclists, in the same way one would look for pedestrians in any traffic situation. Highly skilled daily commuting cyclists are easy to identify. They are serious bike riders, usually wearing a helmet and on a roadworthy two-wheeler and wearing easily identifiable clothing. There is a larger group of fair-weather riders, however, who are not as judicious about sticking to the rules of the road. Drivers can expect some to be on the sidewalk, from time to time, in odd locations. Checking the shoulder of ones intended path of travel is not only a requirement, its the safest way to proceed when executing a turn or lane change or leaving the curb around cyclists. Drivers are legally required to ensure the way is clear. Cyclists can help themselves by avoiding travelling in a drivers blind spot. Sadly, its often a precaution taken by only the most experienced bike riders, who appreciate the dangers of not being noticed. Motor-vehicle drivers should not assume that all adult bike riders have a drivers licence, and thus understand the rules of the road. Maybe it is the bike riders only available transportation. It might be a purely financial decision. It could also be an environmental decision to ride an electric bike. Then again, the bike choice might be as a result of a driving suspension or prohibition. Drivers should not let their guard down when encountering dedicated bike lanes on city streets. This type of bike accommodation seems to work well in core and defined travel corridors. There is a catch, however. Cyclists are not required to use them. Any cyclist can ride in any travelled lane. Looking for cyclists on the main road lanes is a good idea. Having this option available to cyclists on dedicated bike-lane roads is a very bad idea. The separation of bikes and motor vehicles is a good idea. Both groups have a degree of resentment toward one another. Bike riders feel pushed around by car drivers. They feel they are invisible to drivers, who are preoccupied with the danger of collisions with other motor vehicles. Some bike riders swear they are invisible to some drivers, particularly those who have never ridden a bike and do not appreciate the experience. Cyclists are the ones who will bear the overwhelming brunt of any crash with a motor vehicle. This, and this alone, should be reason enough for cyclists to obey the simple rules of the road. Conversely, motor-vehicle drivers feel there should be stricter enforcement of cyclists errant behaviour. Should they be subject to a registration fee? Why is there little to no enforcement for riding on a sidewalk? Is helmet legislation ever enforced? A very perceptive police officer summed up the situation: Motor vehicle drivers pay with their wallets, cyclists pay with their lives. Would that we were all willing to change this reality! Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is the former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.

Steve Wallace: Spring Has Sprung, so Be Careful Out on the Roads 1

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