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Patricia Coppard: Not prepared to share the trail? Feel free to take your chances on the road

Virtually every reader who wrote in agreed something needs to be done about the Wild West that’s developed as fast-moving powered vehicles have proliferated on regional trails.
Cyclists and pedestrians on Harbour Road near the Johnson Street Bridge this week. Mixed-use trails aren’t just for cyclists, as much as some riders seem to feel they should be, writes Patricia Coppard. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Wow. Obviously there is a lot of frustration out there about the poor behaviour of cyclists and other wheeled vehicles on the Galloping Goose, judging by the response to my column a couple of weeks ago.

Virtually every reader who wrote in agreed that something needs to be done about the Wild West that’s developed as fast-moving powered vehicles have ­proliferated on the trail.

We’ve collected four of the longer submissions from readers for you to read today:

• Some cyclists treat other trail users as badly as the worst drivers treat cyclists

• Inattentive cyclist crashed into mom, daughter and friends walking on Goose

• Crash near Selkirk trestle illustrates need for a traffic circle

• Speed is intoxicating, but shouldn't trump courtesy

In the meantime, I wanted to address some of the pushback I saw online to the argument that ­aggressive and inconsiderate cyclists are ruining the experience for others on the trail, and in some cases, driving them away entirely.

These pushback arguments seem to be resonating with our civic leaders, so they need to be addressed.

Here are the main arguments I saw online:

Drivers Kill More People So Why Don’t You Focus on Them?

This is the classic “what about them?” argument. ­Politicians do it all the time. So do children.

In response, I will say what I say to my children: “We’re not talking about them right now. We’re ­talking about you.”

Does the fact that drivers kill more people mean we give a free pass to dangerous behaviour by certain trail users?

Incidentally, drivers may kill more people, but our readers told us that people DO get hurt on the trail all the time — we just don’t hear about it.

A pedestrian was hit by an e-bike on the E&N Rail Trail on Wednesday evening and had to go to hospital — as did the rider. A witness said the e-bike was doing 40 km/h and narrowly missed hitting a child on a bike prior to the collision.

Cyclists Have Hardly Any Space in the City So Leave Us Alone

There’s no question that drivers have more space in the city than cyclists do.

Do certain aggressive cyclists then “own” the small amount of space allotted to active transportation?

Do they not have to share it with others who may ride more slowly, or, God forbid, walk on a mixed-use trail, sometimes with small, slow and unpredictable children or pets in tow?

That’s exactly the argument I got from one reader the last time I wrote about the issue a few years ago. She wrote that pedestrians should stick to sidewalks and leave the Goose to cyclists.

The problem is that it’s a multi-use trail. If you don’t want it to be that, go ahead and lobby your local politicians to change it. But if you want to do 50 km/h and you’re not ­prepared to be courteous around other trail users, feel free to take your chances on the roads.

Pedestrians are the Real Problem

Pedestrians walking four abreast don’t move when you want to pass?

Slow down and move around them when it’s safe. It takes a few seconds more. Take some deep breaths and get over it.

Most of the worst problems on the Goose come from people plunging ahead in situations where it’s not safe because they’re impatient — take a beat and wait for the opposing lane to clear. It won’t kill you.

As a cyclist, I have an issue with other cyclists ­riding three abreast and crossing into the opposing lane at high speed. To me, that poses a much bigger danger than a pedestrian with earbuds.

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable people on the trail — they have the most skin in the game when it comes to dangerous behaviour by riders of heavy, speeding e-bikes and other powered mobility devices.

Give them plenty of space and slow down when you’re around them.

As a side note, you may have noticed pedestrians walking on the left on the Selkirk Trestle. This is likely because they have been terrorized by too many people whizzing by them from behind too fast and too close. They want to see you coming. Just smile and say hi.

I often tell confused pedestrians on the ­Dockside Green bike trail that they would be safer on the ­pedestrian side than on the bike lanes. They are confused because there are almost no signs indicating who belongs where.

The result is baby strollers being pushed in the bike lanes where e-bikes are blasting through, cutting ­corners and zipping by on blind curves. Terrifying.

Not All E-bike Riders are Badly Behaved

Many e-bike riders are respectful and capable of ­sharing the trail.

Others are not, and they’re ruining the experience for everyone.

As reader Jon Savell writes: “Some cyclists treat other trail users as badly as the worst motorists treat cyclists.”

Anyone with the temerity to ask those cyclists to be more considerate typically gets a one-finger salute and some colourful language. Charming.

Courtesy is complicated. Sharing is hard. There is no alternative, however, on a mixed-use trail.

We all need to play nice and be considerate of ­others.

Let’s make the “e” in e-bikes stand for “etiquette” not “entitled.”

Patricia Coppard is associate city editor of the Times Colonist.

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