Driver vs. cyclist, part III: The results
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, June 3rd 2016
For the past three years, I have responded to the challenge of racing former Victoria councillor and dedicated bike commuter John Luton, from a specific location to the finish line at the Starbucks coffee shop at Fort and Blanshard streets in downtown Victoria.
The reason for such a duel is simple: It raises awareness of how efficient a bicycle commute can be in the midst of rush-hour morning traffic.
Of the 23 teams competing, 13 of the 23 contests were won by the cyclists. Unfortunately for John, he was not one of them.
This was the rubber match. In the first year John had an excuse. He said his fast bike was in the shop and he had to resort to his slow bike for the race.
In the second contest, he looked like a man possessed, or perhaps it was the fact that I hit every red traffic light possible from beginning to end of the route.
This third race was entirely different. I got to propose the route. John agreed to it, partly because he is such a congenial guy, and more likely because he was not generally aware of the hills from Cook Street Starbucks to Royal Jubilee Hospital.
There are very good dedicated bike lanes on this route, and I was afraid that it would help John in his quest to overcome the uphill nature of the route.
I was on the lookout for John throughout the race, and by doing so I was shocked to see almost all of the cyclists I encountered were wearing helmets.
They obeyed the traffic laws and seemed both safe and skilful. These were daily riders. They had a place to go and were probably riding a very familiar route to work.
This is not usually the norm for the core of the city. Most days, I see at least one-third of the bicycle riders without helmets.
They are riding on the sidewalk or even against vehicular traffic on a oneway street.
How far do you think the typical driver would get with a seatbelt dangling from the vehicle window, as the driver went up a one-way street, in the wrong direction on the sidewalk? This is a major resentment felt by motorized vehicle drivers every day. Enforcement seems slack when it comes to cyclists.
Before blaming the police, one should first consider the ambiguous nature of bicycle regulations, and put far more pressure on politicians at the provincial level to clarify and define both infractions and penalties.
Every time drivers see a cyclist, it should please them. It usually means one fewer motorized vehicle on the road. The same goes for buses.
Giving way to a bus is like letting dozens of vehicles go by. It is the cavalier attitude of the fools on bikes, who choose to do silly, dangerous and illegal things in traffic that really irk both drivers and pedestrians alike.
Driving at night without a light, not stopping at stop signs and red lights are other irritants faced by all of us who have to share the road with two-wheeled terrors.
It was 7:40 a.m. when our race began, and about 8:05 when it ended. The extra time needed was largely due to both of us having to negotiate the hospital parking lot from stem to stern.
Congratulations to the organizers for a great event. See you next year, John. It is your turn to choose the route.