I write about a pair of letters bemoaning council spending on cycling infrastructure on your Feb. 3 letters page (Squeaky bike wheel gets the oil with this Courtenay council; Money for the Sixth Street bridge project could be better used elsewhere). They branded cyclists a special interest minority who piggy-back on the drivers’ road system, ignore traffic laws, and whose carbon savings are pointless because the climate emergency has been solved by the government.
Anyone who can ride a bike enjoys doing so because cycling is just awesome fun. Witness the number of bike shops whose sales went through the roof during this lockdown year. People love it.
A minority, cyclists are not. Nor are they tax-dodging freeloaders. Every adult cyclist I know uses a car as well. When we bike, we are using an infrastructure we have helped pay for, keeping it less crowded and inflicting less wear and tear on it.
Furthermore, as cycling drivers, most of us know the rules of the road, and abide by them most of the time. Labelling a group with the worst aspects of its membership is just prejudice. To do the same to drivers would be to paint us all forever speeding down residential streets yelling into our mobile phones.
Another thing we know as drivers is that keeping cyclists separated from cars makes travel less stressful for all. However, the lack of safe cycling routes remains one of the principal inhibitors for people who love cycling, but can’t make it an integral part of their daily lives.
Cyclists aren’t a minority, but those willing to negotiate our road system on two wheels are, and will remain so unless we connect all parts of our community with safe cycle routes. It will benefit everyone who uses the roads and, since the climate emergency clearly hasn’t been solved yet, even those who don’t.