Re: Cycling in Leaside
Ms. Burtin Fripp’s balanced and thoughtful article inviting a renewed discussion on cycling in the city and more specifically in Leaside was innocuous enough that Mr. Cartney’s tartly worded response then caught me quite by surprise. By insisting upon strict enforcement of the HTA, Cartney hews closely to the long-held party line of his ilk. These arguments have played out in the pages of the Globe and Mail for time immemorial, but they kicked up noticeably during the war on the car. At that time, the Globe employed a small number of columnists and editors whose delight it was gently to troll the cycling advocacy. Well, times have changed, haven’t they? In just yesterday’s edition, we have the current auto columnist imploring people like Mr. Cartney to smarten up and get real. And this spring has seen one of the former trolls also swung round to the new reality.
So, while I hadn’t been planning to respond, in part because I’ve said my piece in so many responses over the years, here’s a few new thoughts that I haven’t previously mined for the benefit of Mr Cartney. This week, I found myself at a suburban hockey arena for the first time in a while. Since spectators still are not allowed inside, I found myself taking long walks in the neighbourhood. So for 8 hours this week I walked three of our finest suburban highways, Sheppard, Keele and Jane, closing the loop through York U. During this time, I witnessed NO ONE riding on the highway. Despite that it is required by law that cyclists do so. Instead, everyone was riding on the sidewalk! So, I was passed perhaps a dozen times, within a few inches, by a cyclist. None of them swerved to pass me, in other words. Not only did I not get struck to the ground, I didn’t even begrudge the insult. During this past week, there was just the one shooting that I know of, that took place in the communities that I was passing through. If you can get yourself killed by gunshot in this city, why on earth would you ever consent to getting yourself killed by a driver like Mr. Cartney?
So, to Mr. Cartney, I invite him to come ride with me. I know a handful of places in the city (there are many more), where I can get Mr. Cartney legally killed. I myself will survive as I have certain bike skills that you need to stay alive amongst the sharks. But Mr. Cartney, following my lead, will risk death. And if that comes to pass, his murderer will pay a fine of no more than $75, and no crime will have been committed. All that according to the letter of the law as laid down in his precious HTA.
I would like to thank Carol Burtin Fripp for her recent article in covering cycling etiquette. I walk a great deal in Leaside and sometimes over to Cleveland and on the other side of Eglinton. I find the cyclists on the sidewalks very frightening. They come up swiftly from behind me as you pointed out, or are coming straight for me forcing me to get out of the way. These events not only happen on side streets, but also on Bayview which is much more crowded. Many times I find it frightening. Periodically I ask the cyclist to please use the road and not the sidewalk. They do not move.
I have thought about your invitation as to how we can deal with this. I do not have a silver bullet by any means. Since most of the cyclists are children of school age, maybe you have an education program in the schools lead by the community police. Maybe posting signs in strategic locations stressing safety would help. I worry that someone will be hurt if this practice continues.
Thanks very much for bringing this important issue forward.