Time to give cyclists a break

Dear editor,

It is time to give cyclists a break? Cyclists are not the cause of Jack's (Record Aug. 7) or anyone else's bad day.

Dear editor,

It is time to give cyclists a break?  Cyclists are not the cause of Jack’s (Record Aug. 7) or anyone else’s bad day.

Yes, there are some poor cycling behaviours out there.

I do appreciate it is really frustrating and even scary to watch someone being unsafe on their bike. Your fear and anger reflects you care — no one wants to run over a cyclist even if it is the cyclist’s fault, thank you.

But don’t condemn all cyclists; most cyclists follow the rules.

Most cyclists strongly support their community and volunteer many hours to support cycling and the Comox Valley.  They are real tax paying, law-abiding citizens and they may be your friends, colleagues, relatives, children, parents or even grandparents.

So why do people ride the sidewalks?  Bike riders often feel they have two choices: the road where the law says they must cycle (and possibly get run over by a fast and/or distracted driver) or the sidewalk.

Survival mode often kicks in, especially when children are involved, and so people ride the sidewalk.

Not unlike wildlife, cyclists are losing their ‘habitat.’  The quiet roads cyclists enjoy are diminishing or disappearing completely and being replaced by wide, congested roadways that do not safely accommodate cyclists.

The few bike lanes that are present often disappear when you need them most. Some Comox Valley roads are starting to become like those of the Mainland: fast, congested and crash zones.

Roads that only the desperate or extreme cyclists dare to ride on.

Encouraging cycling keeps the congestion down. Separated cycling infrastructure is the solution.

As part of an overall transportation plan, the tangible cost is insignificant when built during road improvements; when calculating in the intangible benefits, it is a bargain.

Cycling education can help too. The Comox Valley Cycling Coalition is doing its best to educate the public. Since April 2012, 12 of the 15 Elementary Schools in SD71 have had free CVCCo bike rodeos to teach kids cycling skills: 1345 children in the Comox Valley.

The coalition has also taught over 160 adults commuter cycling skills.

It takes time and enormous volunteer resources to create a change. What is essential is political will and commitment.

This is where frustrated drivers can put their complaints into positive action and make a difference for themselves and their community.

Write to your MLA and local government officials and ask them to substantially support cycling education in this community.  Or write the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition to find out ways to work together to improve cycling infrastructure and your driving experience.

The next time you see a bicycle rider doing something that appears crazy, write a letter to the editor, your MLA or local politician and ask that the communities in the Comox Valley start building for bicycles, not just cars, in a multimodal approach using a Complete Streets Model.

Building for bicycles works for everyone.  You can still drive your car while bike riders can safely cycle out of your way.

A word of caution though, don’t be surprised with safer cycling infrastructure, you also pull out your bike for a spin and find out what you have been missing.

Sue Vince

Royston, BC

 

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