To­day, I am ashamed to be a cy­cling en­thu­si­ast

Do not blow stop signs, it de­means all of us

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - KRISTA DAM-VANDEKUYT Krista Dam-VandeKuyt lives in Jerseyville

Dear Cy­clists of Hamilton:

As a fel­low cy­clist, I get the lure of the road. I can’t wait for that first warm dry day in early spring that I can take my bike off its trainer and out onto the road.

I have cy­cled great dis­tances and know the ca­ma­raderie that ex­ists when we cy­cle to­gether for an evening, for a week­end fundraiser like Ride to Con­quer can­cer, or across the coun­try.

I have bragged about sad­dle sores af­ter a cen­tury-ride like they were my tro­phies.

And noth­ing beats the ex­hil­a­ra­tion of con­quer­ing that moun­tain or dip­ping weather-beaten tires in the At­lantic Ocean af­ter spend­ing weeks in the sad­dle.

But to­day I am ashamed to be con­sid­ered one of you.

I just started teach­ing my old­est son the rules of cy­cling on the road. Ev­ery time I take him out, even for a short dis­tance in our ru­ral Hamilton neigh­bour­hood, that ma­ter­nal pro­tec­tive fear sur­faces and I am afraid some ig­no­rant or dis­tracted mo­torist will hit him.

But on the night of July 11, as I was driv­ing home, I al­most be­came the mo­torist that killed an ig­no­rant cy­clist.

Sir, if you are by any chance read­ing this and won­der­ing if you were that cy­clist who blew through that all-way stop at Fid­dlers Green/Jerseyville Road and saw an an­gry woman blar­ing on her horn with a ve­hi­cle full of chil­dren, you should be thank­ful I saw you.

It was com­pletely my right to go through that in­ter­sec­tion, but I caught a glimpse of you com­ing up be­hind a ve­hi­cle turn­ing right. Just be­fore I ac­cel­er­ated, I thought to my­self, “He’s not stop­ping.” And sure enough, there you went, with­out a pause, right through the all-way stop.

If I had not been pay­ing at­ten­tion be­yond that treed in­ter­sec­tion, I could have killed you.

And I would have to live with that. My chil­dren would have to live with that trau­matic mem­ory. A man struck down right be­fore their eyes.

I am not a per­fect driver. I am not a per­fect cy­clist. But I try my best to re­spect ev­ery­one on the road.

I would like to say this was my first time ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some­thing like this. The truth is, it hap­pens too of­ten. Just ear­lier the same week, a cy­clist de­cided not to wait their proper place at a stop­light on the cor­ner of Fid­dlers Green and Gar­ner Road, an in­ter­sec­tion with­out a bike lane. I watched the cy­clist scoot il­le­gally along the right side of the ve­hi­cles but when the light turned green, the cy­clist nearly got clipped by a ve­hi­cle turn­ing right.

Cy­clists, what is your prob­lem? We fight for the right to share the road but so many of you give us a bad name! When we are on the road, we are con­sid­ered ve­hi­cles. Yes, we are en­ti­tled to one me­tre on the right side of the road, but that means we fol­low mo­torist rules.

If it’s a lit­tle foggy for you, maybe it’s time for a CAN-BIKE re­fresher. Or per­haps you’ve never both­ered to take the time to learn the rules?

Maybe cy­clists should be reg­u­lated just like mo­torists, re­quir­ing them to ob­tain li­cences that can be re­voked.

Per­haps it is ide­al­is­tic to wish the road was a safer place. Dreamer or not, it’s time for many Hamilton cy­clists to smarten up.

Cy­clists, what is your prob­lem? We fight for the right to share the road but so many of you give us a bad name!

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