Comment 11587

By Bradford Hovinen (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2007 at 17:04:42

On the question of changing attitudes, one suggestion I have made is to include safe cycling education on the level of CAN-BIKE 1 in public schools and (maybe more importantly) to include information on cyclists' rights in driver training. When I brought this up with the Toronto Cycling Committee, it was pointed out that they have been pushing for the same things, but the Toronto District School Board has stonewalled thus far.

As for those motorists who continue to disrespect law-abiding cyclists, I would suggest first making the harassment of law-abiding road users (by, e.g. honking one's horn) illegal and punishable by a stiff fine and demerit points.

Then, for heaven's sake, actually *enforce traffic laws*. Take a few cases, punish the people as severely as the legal system allows, and make sure everyone knows about it. Keep doing that until everyone gets the message. I heard about a recent case in Germany where the government put a person in prison for twenty years because he drove aggressively, causing an accident that killed a mother and her child. The authorities wanted to make an example of the motorist. That's what we need here.

As for infrastructure, I must say that my support for bike lanes has waned considerably in the last couple of years living in Toronto. The city does almost nothing to enforce them, so they become free parking for motorists. Cyclists are then forced to move around parked cars, which puts the less-experienced ones in grave danger as they are moving into and out of the flow of motor traffic. They also create hazards at intersections, since motorists usually turn right from a position to the left of the bike lane. In short, bike lanes don't obviate the need for education of both motorists and cyclists.

A few months ago, I brought up the idea of putting in a concrete divider to separate the bike lanes and prevent motorists from parking in them with a friend who works for Toronto city council. Since then, my support for the idea has fallen. They create problems for cyclists wishing to make vehicular-style left turns, they make the lanes much harder to keep clean, and, unless the lane is very wide, they make overtaking very difficult and potentially risky (some cyclists are extremely slow, and I ride at a pretty good clip, so I don't want to be perpetually stuck behind them).

So, in short, I lean more in favour of education and enforcement than of infrastructure.

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