Now that the one-metre cycling law in Ontario has come into effect, the vitriol in the backlash from some drivers has heated up. On news posts, on the radio, on television, and all over social media, drivers of motorized vehicles balk at the law, which states that a vehicle that is passing a cyclist must maintain a minimum of one metre of distance from the cyclist. If it is unsafe to pass, the motor vehicle must wait, behind the cyclist, until it is safe to pass.
Yesterday, as my cycle group traveled on Century Road, just south of Manotick, some asshole, passing the 12 of us on a straight road with plenty of visibility and plenty of room, decided to get as close to us as he could as he sped by. Never mind that there was a vehicle that was ahead of him and gave us a wide berth. His car spewed black smoke from his exhaust as he hit his accelerator (not like those brain-dead, rolling-coal drivers: his car was just a piece of shit) and I could see him laughing as he came close to me.
And cyclists are the hazard?
It happens every time we go for a group ride: someone will blare his horn as he guns past; another person will scream "get off the road," fist shaking; still, another will pass us, only to drift onto the shoulder of the road to kick up dirt for us.
I'm not saying that all cyclists are law-abiding and conscientious toward drivers. Some cyclists will blow through stop signs; others will weave in and out of traffic; still, others will cycle the wrong way down a one-way street or on the wrong side of the road, or will travel on sidewalks.
As a member of the Ottawa Bicycle Club, before you participate in your first group ride, you must attend a clinic where you are reminded of the rules of the road and you are taught how to travel safely in a group. On a ride, there is a leader who has experience with group rides, who makes sure we all follow the rules, and who points out when we screw up.
We ride on the right side of the road. We stop at all signs and red lights. On county roads, when we come to a stop sign, we slow right down, and come to a full stop if other traffic is approaching. If there is no traffic, we still slow to a near stop, but we won't actually stop because it's safer for the group to keep moving. But make no mistake, we make damned sure there are no other vehicles approaching the intersection before we make that call to keep rolling.
We ride two-abreast when road conditions allow for it. In Ontario, it is legal for us to do so, but we only do it when we have ample, paved shoulders or we are travelling on roads with four or more lanes. We ride in single file when the shoulder isn't paved and we're on a busy, two-laned road.
We respect the rules of the road and other vehicles.
And yet, on every ride, there is at least one dipshit who feels he has to intimidate us or try to run us off the road.
Yes, there are bad cyclists, but they are not the norm. Just as there are bad drivers who are not the norm.
So, you have to ask yourself: if you're the type of driver who becomes enraged at the sight of a cyclist on the road, who sounds your horn as you pass them, who drives dangerously close, who purposely kicks up dirt, who screams for the cyclist to get off the road, who do you really think is the problem?
We all belong on the road. Let's share it.