Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dear cyclist...

Dear lady cyclist on Osborne yesterday at about 415,
You or your child are going to get killed if you keep riding like that. Why you would choose to bike down construction filled Osborne during rush hour, towing a child-trailer behind you is beyond me, but I suppose your choice to make. I mean, I don't like kids at the best of times, but even I wouldn't tow a kid (anyone's kid, let alone my own if I had one) behind me in bumper to bumper traffic where said child-trailer was effectively my bumper, but I guess that's just me. Never mind the fact either that Osborne in the village area is barely wide enough for the two lanes of traffic that it almost holds sans construction, biking down it solo seems scary even then. Add a two wheeled, wide trailer into the mix and it just seems suicidal, but again, your choice.

My beef with you trendy legging with skirt wearing hipster mama, is that, after assessing that you seemed to have a death wish for you or your child - ok, to be fair I didn't actually SEE your kid in the trailer thing, but since that is what is was designed for, and you were of child bearing age and not a scrap metal collector (the other common use for those trailers, at least here in the North End) - I treated you as I believed I should and I changed lanes to pass you. I did this because it was not safe for us to try and "share the lane" in this narrow, construction laden zone.

Then, much to my horror, after I respected you and your child and I had passed you safely, you seemed to want to try and edge up next to me and pass me as we came to a stop for a light. So, this is a letter from the woman you probably thought was a "mean, aggressive typical Winnipeg driver" who pulled herself even closer to the curb so you could not pass. May I suggest, that perhaps next time, you get off your bike, and walk you and your baby safely down the sidewalk in this stretch of road, because, if you don't, you will be but a mere tragic story lining a birdcage.

The Winnipeg Girl who tried to respect you.


  1. I just got back last night from Berlin, a city where cyclists, pedestrians and motorists get along fairly well. Indeed, its streets are a friendlier environment than Winnipeg's are, despite the population density.* (For those who've never seen that kind of population density, imagine the entire populations of metro Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Halifax combined all squeezed inside the Perimeter, and you'll get the picture.)

    One thing that keeps the peace is that cyclists largely ride on the sidewalk in the absence of dedicated cycling lanes -- something that is illegal in Manitoba, despite the fact that our sidewalks are largely deserted because walking is virtually a perversion in North America outside of a few enclaves.

    Legalize sidewalk cycling. If it can work in a city with inner-city/inner-suburban population densities of 10,000 to 15,000 per square kilometre, it can work in thinly populated Winnipeg, with a city-wide average of just 1,400 people per square kilometre.

    (* - As an aside, I found Germans to be a bit friendlier than Winnipeggers in all aspects of life, making more eye contact and exchanging more conversation-starters like "Hallo" and "Guten morgen". The city itself is vastly more fun than Winnipeg, leading me to wonder the veracity of "Friendly Manitoba" and "Small Town Friendly, Big-Town Fun".)

  2. I don't mind sidewalk cycling as long as the cyclists give pedestrians priority and ride respectfully.

    There are basically 2 kinds of cyclists: recreational and commuter. The commuter cyclists would generally drive too fast to be safe on a sidewalk, so they should stick to the road. A recreational cyclist in no hurry to get anywhere might be okay on the sidewalk.

  3. It is illegal for cyclists to ride on sidewalks but the road infrastructure in this city is, with only a small handful of exceptions, totally hostile to bicycles. Something has got to give.

    For what it's worth, the best solution I've seen in person is the cycling lane commonly used on major routes in China. It is typical for major arteries there (think along the lines of Portage, Main, Pembina, McPhillips and the like) to have no parking, with the curb lane being protected by a small barrier and devoted exclusively to bike use. Doing this here on even a handful of major routes would effectively provide a city-wide bicycle route network that would be easy for non-hardcore cyclists to use. Easy peasy.

    Here is a link to a blogpost with some illustrations:

  4. As a commuter cyclist on one of the busiest roads on the city, nothing pisses me off more than seeing cyclists filter down the right side of the road. Wait, I take that back. The cyclists that hop onto the sidewalk to blast past red lights are worse.

    1. Once I caught someone doing that on a scooter going down Donald during rush hour. One second she was right beside me, the next she was up on the sidewalk, crossing Donald with the pedestrians. o_0

  5. I have always gone out of my way to make life easier for cyclists, not passing too close, waving them through so they don't have to slow down (when applicable) - I admire the dedication it takes to ride a bike in a city as car oriented as ours. I also try to be extra courteous to buses, as they provide a valuable service and trump me driving around solo in my car.

    I think that's why this chick made me so mad, she was arrogant and didn't realize that safety is the responsibility of everyone on the road. Add the fact that she was towing her kid in the mix and my blood just boiled.

    I also am okay with cyclists on sidewalks, so long as they give way and respect pedestrians. In fact, I'm actually all for all sorts of things that are illegal for cyclists (and other motorists) that will make their ride easier; the underlying thought being that "Indian road rules" apply - basically they need to remember that they are the smallest, most vulnerable, player in the road game. You want to blow a stop sign because you don't want to lose momentum? Cool, but just remember, you might get smoked by a car - drivers can't be expected to know you were going to do that. Basically, don't give cyclists tickets for things like that, the ultimate ticket will be the one tied to their toe when they choose to break a rule at the wrong time.

  6. I'm not sure where to place my vicarious road rage here. In particular you didn't describe how the woman indicated she wanted to squeeze by. But whatever, the situation at the Osborne St. bridge is making everyone a bit grumpy. It will eventually get better.

    "Taking the lane" isn't just for bikes. You did the right thing by discouraging a pass on the right. Which brings up a unrelated peeve. When drivers are making a right turn where there is a bike lane you *have* to block the bike lane. I have seen too many people turn from the car lane recently.

    Riding on the sidewalk in most parts of Winnipeg is not a good idea. Pretty much everyone blows through the crosswalk at intersections. I personally saw a girl run into an unexpected van on her bike a few years ago.

  7. Another comment. Waving a bike on when they do not have right of way is pretty much always annoying (where it isn't actively dangerous)...

    People in Winnipeg are *way* too polite... :)