Saturday, July 4, 2015

That's Four...

Top of the evening to all...

Some years ago, I had received mobilization orders to go to Afghanistan.  People asked my beloved bride if she was worried about me in a combat zone.  Jennifer's response was tongue-in-cheek, to a point.  She said: "he rides a bicycle downtown.  That scares me more than anything he might do in Afghanistan."

On May 19th, a cyclist was hit in the Mt. Pleasant area.  He died May 29th.    Since then, two more cyclists have been killed in Toronto.  Today, a fourth cyclist was killed while riding his bicycle out in Milton.

Does anybody care?

When I was but a wee lad growing up in the Commonwealth of Virginia, there was a stretch of US 58  near Emporia, VA, about an hour to the west, that was known as "Suicide Strip."  It was a two-lane highway that was a legal passing zone.  There were deaths along that stretch of road for years.  Finally, the government widened it, and in 1991, dedicated the new US 58, a four-lane highway that is now a lovely drive.  Historically, it had been a death every 2.5 months.

Apparently, when motorists die, it is important.  No one asks if the driver was being reckless.  No one complains that someone was speeding.  People point out the unsafe conditions, and finally elicit a response.  Dangerous drivers do stupid things.  Infrastructure can and should be built to prevent such stupidity as much as possible.  In Virginia, it happened.

The recent mess has been more than one death in 2.5 months.  This is now four deaths in five weeks.  In these cases, the cyclists were all being safe.  Not that it matters...there is clearly a need for safety measures.

When I first really started traveling the city by bicycle, I was usually content to ride in the painted cycle lanes.  There are some really nice lanes.  Russell Hill is just a dandy ride.  I was run off the road there once though.  A driver did not see me, and elected to go around a turning car via the bicycle lane as I was passing.

Lately, I have been more and more uncomfortable traveling on the streets.  The carnage of the last five weeks is unnerving, to say the least.

I no longer support painted lanes.  There should be a physical separation on all of the major streets.  The bloodshed must end.  Cyclists have the absolute right to safety on streets for which they pay taxes to pave and to maintain.  Not only do they have the right to safety, they have the right to the feeling of safety.

To its credit, the City of Toronto is embarked on a major study to figure out the next steps in developing infrastructure.  It will take time to see if the city is serious in taking the set of steps necessary after the current set of steps.  I will believe it when I see it.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone to go to to do the cycling survey and to make your own cycling map.  This is not just an issue for cyclists.  This is also an issue for drivers.  We do not have to be adversaries.  We should not be adversaries.  We all want to get where we are going safely.

Thank you all for listening.

Have a good night.


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