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E-bike trail etiquette: Speed is intoxicating, but shouldn't trump courtesy

Bike lanes and paths and dedicated signage and lights have been a carrot for cyclists, but it’s time for a little stick
Even on a recreational pathway, some riders let their need for speed trump all other considerations, writes Gene Logan. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

I have at different times been a cyclist. Besides riding for pleasure I was riding to work long before bike lanes were ever heard of. I’ve also been a motorcycle rider, a motorist and a professional driver.

Electric bikes have been a game changer. In the past, you could safely pass a cyclist powering up a hill.

Now you never know if the e-biker is going to pass you. It makes right turns a whole lot more stressful because you have no way to reliably estimate the speed of that bike coming up the hill.

It could accelerate at any moment. This is a good example of the importance of bike lanes.

There is also still a significant number of cyclists that transition at will from sidewalk to street and vice versa.

Add to that the plethora of other motorized devices behaving badly and you have a situation crying out for intervention.

A good start would be applying radar to determine which bikes have been modified to exceed the 32 km/h limit and removing them. But as your previous writer points out, regular bikes are just as capable of reckless speeding and causing harm. Common sense may be hard to legislate but traffic regulations aren’t.

I know that sensation of speed on a bike or a motorcycle can be intoxicating. Even on a recreational pathway, some riders let their need for that rush trump all other considerations.

The trick is in maintaining a courteous attitude. If you are thinking of the other person, your common sense is also going to kick in.

Simply put, you are paying attention. Sadly, a considerable number of cyclists are among the most discourteous users of our roadways today, often deliberately so.

I have always deferred to bicycles on a roadway, going out of my way to make them feel safe.

On a side street, even if I have plenty of space, I will wait at a pullout for a cyclist to come down the street, much the same as I would do for another car.

I always look for a nod or wave from the other motorist and reply in kind when they do. This tells me they are aware of their surroundings and paying attention.

In all my years of driving, I can count on two fingers the times a cyclist has given me that nod or wave.

They have become as entitled as a lot of the motorists they rail on about.

Maybe bicycle safety and courtesy is something that could be taught in elementary schools.

Unfortunately, that isn’t going to do much to change the current situation, but there is a way forward.

Bike lanes and paths and dedicated signage and lights have been a carrot for cyclists.

It’s time for a little stick. It’s time to hold them accountable. Then maybe we can do something about the fashion crime that is lycra.

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