I am a pedestrian. I am a motorist. I am a cyclist.
I have also been in an accident as a cyclist that has carried a lasting impact on me.
No, I am not talking about physical discomfort or injuries as those have somewhat improved and can be controlled. I am also not referring to my fear as that is something I choose to let fuel me instead of control or limit me. Every day that I get on my bike and ride I take a little part of my power back and release some of the fear.
I am talking about my awareness not only as a cyclist but as a person walking and as someone behind the wheel of a vehicle.
For the last few weeks I have been steadily increasing my riding time in order to prepare for my participation in Bike to Work Week, The Great Cycle Challenge for Children’s Cancer and the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
As I have been doing so it has become apparent to me that there is a lot of education that needs to happen for all three groups of people – after all we all play/work/live in this beautiful city together and we need to get along…safely.
So that being said, here it is as I see it:
- Cars and cyclists can’t see you if you’re walking at night and wearing all black. Reflective bands are cheap, easy to locate and are actually being given aware at some Bike to Work Week celebration stations around the city this week.
- Pets NEED to be on leashes when sharing a trail with cyclists. Remember they are animals and if they see something they want to chase they will do so as their instinct is strong. An animal running in front of a bike spells disaster for the cyclist and the animal.
- Wear only one earphone at all times on a shared trail as you need to be aware of your surroundings and able to hear whatever else is coming in your direction.
- I know you are trying to get somewhere important and that your time is just as valuable as mine when I am biking or driving but when you dart across the road in those last seconds before the little hand on the light changes you put yourself at risk because I can’t stop as quickly as you can.
- Your cell phone is distraction – please put it down at least at the crosswalk so that you can see vehicles and bikes coming.
- Bike lanes are NOT “Oh look, I can get around the cars in front of me faster” lanes – if you are not looking carefully you can cut off a cyclist who has the right to be here and possibly cause them harm.
- The dedicated bus/bike lanes that run down almost the entire length of Douglas from Mayfair Mall to City Hall (6am to 9am or 3pm to 6pm depending on direction) are exactly that… DEDICATED to buses and bikes. These are NOT lanes for avoiding traffic jams. Don’t turn into them unless you’re turning off Douglas onto a side road and even then do it only shortly before you need to turn NOT 6 blocks before.
- Please watch for “Share the Road” signs and the cyclist hand signals that go along with merging into these as it is our only way of communicating our intentions.
- Automatically assume that pedestrians don’t see you.
- Put away your cell phone – no call is worth your life or someone else’s. Yes, I know it’s a hard habit to break (for me too), but it’s harder to go apologize to the family of someone we’ve just hurt…or worse.
- Please DO NOT wear headphones when driving as you are unable to hear things like sirens outside of your vehicle.
Last (but certainly NOT least)
- Be seen from space at all times – everything from your clothing choices to the lights on your bike MATTER and can make the difference between being seen and not.
- Most of you aren’t under motor power BUT you are still a vehicle on wheels that can go high speeds. This means you are capable of causing damage to others and to yourself.
- As a fellow cyclist or as a pedestrian I do NOT have eyes in the back of my head. Please don’t forget to “ding” a bell if you have one or call out “On your left” if you don’t. This could save someone else’s limb or life….or your own.
- YOU might be practicing for the Tour de Victoria but the majority of the people you share the trails/paths with are not. If you are going higher speeds be aware of your surroundings, where possible use alternative routes….or simply slow down.
- Don’t use your phone unless stopped safely and if listening to music do so with only one ear bud in place so you can still hear others.
We need to work together on this. If we make a collective effort to practice bike, pedestrian and motor safety we can all have a positive impact on the way we commute and play.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing I hope you can take your own acute awareness and use it to get yourself and others home safely today.
Image Credit: Me