Drivers vs. cyclists: the answer to road peace in our time is “don’t take it personally”
Ah, March 1st. The unofficial beginning of spring in this part of southern Canada, as the thermometer starts to spend more and more time above zero and Torontonians reacquaint themselves with two things they’ve missed lo these many months: sunlight and bicycles. Okay, maybe the city hasn’t missed bicycles that much—last year, the early part of the mayoral race revolved around how much bike lanes were hated (“a lot, or more than anything? Please check one.”). The candidates got to hash out in public what Torontonians had been arguing about in private for so long: how to find peace in the road war. A new article by Tom Vanderbilt in Outside sheds some light on the topic. He proposes that part of the hate-on that each group has for the other is basically psychological.
“We know that merely perceiving someone as an outsider is enough to provoke a whole range of things,” says Ian Walker, a researcher at the University of Bath who specializes in traffic psychology. “All the time, you hear drivers saying things like ‘Cyclists, they’re all running red lights, they’re all riding on sidewalks,’ while completely overlooking the fact that the group they identify with regularly engages in a whole host of negative behaviors as well.”…
“As a couples therapist, I tell people that we take things so personally,” Joe Simonetti says…It’s easy, when a car edges too close or cuts him off, to “go to that paranoid place where they’re just trying to fuck with me. We’re so worried that someone else can steal our sense of self that we fight for it at every turn.” But it could have been just that the driver didn’t see him.
So, soon-to-be stressed road warriors of Toronto: try to think of this as a troubled marriage and follow the advice of couples therapist Simonetti—don’t take these things so personally. It might be hard when a car nearly gives a cyclist the right hook, or when a motorist is stuck in traffic watching cyclists glide by not-quite-effortlessly, but seriously: it’s not personal.
6 thoughts on “Drivers vs. cyclists: the answer to road peace in our time is “don’t take it personally””
Okay, bashing the cyclist is totally a no no, but seriously, do the cyclists have to be right in front of the car???
What happened to being on the side of the road and not in the middle of a car lane.
A lot of this road rage can be avoided by making cyclists apply for a road license just like any other motor vehicle driver. They would have to learn road rules in order to get the license.
They should obey road rules and be accountable for their actions. Maybe then, peace would finally reign!
Oh, and I bet my life that the irresponsible cyclists will just love bashing my comment, since they will do anything in their power NOT to be licensed.
I have wondered since the early 70’s, just what good the cyclist union really was other than to make demands for road space. Certainly NOT to made demands for licensing cyclists to keep them safe, that’s for sure.
Cyclists ride in the centre of the lane because it is safer to do so then being squeezed into parked cars by larger vehicles or having to avoid drivers exiting cars and pedestrians.
I don’t disagree with the fact that cyclists shouldn’t always be in the centre of the lane. However, the highway traffic act, specifically allows cyclists to be there.
So while I agree that all parties using the roads should know the rules of the road, things like using the middle of the lane, is something that everyone is confused about. I don’t blame Missy, I don’t know many people who actually understand the highway traffic act, but in this case, that is perfectly legal.
The only issue I have with licensing is what do you do with kids?
I love it when people say things like this:
“What happened to being on the side of the road and not in the middle of a car lane.”
and then follow it up with:
“…by making cyclists apply for a road license just like any other motor vehicle driver.”
If you want cyclists to follow the letter of the law just like drivers (ostensibly) do, then don’t get upset when cyclists rightfully take up their space in the lane, even when it *gasp* inconveniences you. A bicycle is legally a vehicle on the road and entitled to the same space a car is.
Conciliatory note to fellow cyclists: we really do need to stop running red lights…even the dumb ones, like at Bloor and Manning
As a cyclist, driver and pedestrian (not all at once mind you!) I have come to the realization that in every “group” there are always those who disobey the rules of the road or are just plain bad at it. Perhaps it’s just time for everyone to get off their high horses and acknowledge that while you have a right to be on the road you also have to respect others rights. A little respect goes a long way. Oh, and Missy, no offense but licensing drivers doesn’t seem to prevent them from running red lights/stop signs, cutting people off, driving the wrong way down a one way street, speeding, and breaking innumerable other laws.
I think YOU need to learn the rules of the road.
There is no such thing as a “car lane”, except on stretches of street where the is a separate, marked, bike lane.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, cyclists ARE entitled to ride in the CENTRE of the right-hand lane on any road with two or more lanes in the same direction. Cyclists who ride at the edge of the lane are simply doing drivers a favour (and risking their safety to do so).
If you don’t want the whole right-hand lane of your to be occupied by cyclists, then you should ask to have a formal, uninterrupted, bike lane installed.
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