Dear Urban Diplomat: my cyclist husband risks his life by purposely ramming into cars. How do I get him to stop?
Dear Urban Diplomat,
Every day—in rain, sleet, snow—my husband cycles to work along the Harbord bike lane. And every day he nearly gets killed because he says he doesn’t have to yield to vehicles turning right. Of course, most drivers turn without looking, and he rams into them on purpose. I’m terrified he’ll get beat up or run over. He says he’s not wrong so he won’t stop. First, is he really right? Second, how do I persuade him that risking his life to prove a point is moronic?
—My Husband’s a Cyclepath, Dufferin Grove
I realize it can be considered an act of war to upset the cycling community, but the rules are clear: right-turning cars must move into the rightmost lane before turning, even if it’s a designated cycle lane. The right of way really depends on who’s there first. If it’s the car, the cyclist must stop or pass on the left. If it’s the cyclist, the driver must stop and proceed once the cyclist has advanced. So direct your vigilante spouse to the relevant passage in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and plead for adherence. If he still insists on flouting the rules, I doubt any rhetorical feat or guilt trip will change his mind. Instead, buy him the loud bicycle horn, which matches the tone and volume of a car horn, and pray.
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20 thoughts on “Dear Urban Diplomat: my cyclist husband risks his life by purposely ramming into cars. How do I get him to stop?”
Unfortunately, I think this situation really illustrates why the motorist/cyclist conversation sometimes breaks down or devolves in to angry rhetoric so often. Both sides get entrenched in the idea that they are “right” and the actual rules of the road never get brought in to it or just conveniently ignored. I’ve seen cyclists whiz through stop signs and cut off pedestrians just as often as I’ve seen drivers run a cyclist right in to the curb as they make a right hand turn without checking.
Cyclists never stop for right turning vehicles. It’s scary. If the bike is there first, for sure…stop and be courteous. But I feel sometimes they purposely try and make a point (see article!) and cruise up and start “beeping” and giving the evil eye for a car turning and waiting for pedestrians and “blocking” the bike lane.
This is a tough one, because while it can be a turf war in the streets, many don’t realize that it’s actually a negotiation of space wherein respect for the law, respect for all commuters needs to hold sway. I’m a daily 4 season downtown cyclist; my bike is my car, I get the conflict. There are A-hole idiot cyclists, who don’t obey the “The Traffic Act, and there are equally or more distracted, angry, hurried drivers that have to beat the red going around the corner. Bike couriers and Taxi’s are the worst of both camps. It’s about being focused, respectful,and alert. I’ve been “car-doored” 3 times by distracted driver, and have learned that no matter how busy you or they are, be prepared to stop and yield. Drivers need to use their mirrors. 30 seconds of patience on either side could actually stop a self-righteous cyclist from being injured or killed, and a driver from having damaged vehicle, and facing charges. Cars have “armour”, Cyclists have none other than a helmet, a whistle and a bell. We need to respect each other, and report to the police when an event has occurred. Patience, deference, respect, We all share the road
I hope the douce-bag get hit and run over in the worst way and dies a slow horrible death.
Cyclists can’t have it both ways. Either you’re a vehicle or you’re a pedestrian. Why do you get to run stop signs and red lights if the intersection is empty yet cars all around you must obey all the rules of the road at all times? I have no problem with cyclists generally but this always irks me.
Craziness. I don’t ride a bicycle in the City, but I have ridden motorcycles for many years. To me there is no point in maintaining your right-of-way if it kills you. Defensive riding means anticipating and assuming the worst behaviour from drivers and yielding regardless of who is in the right. This guy is an example of a militant that gives all riders a bad rap, and ironically, he’s not even got the legal right-of-way!
That’s an over-reaction. I’m pretty sure the death penalty is overkill for stupid/inconsiderate behaviour.
Drivers should treat a right turn the same as a left – check and wait for a gap in cyclist traffic before proceeding. This is especially true with a bike lane as the driver is crossing a designated lane. It is unsafe to instruct cyclists to pass on the left, especially when there is a bike lane as many drivers would find this unexpected. Unfortunately, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act does not do a good job of illustrating realistic scenarios of how cyclists and cars interact in a busy city setting. The “who got there first” mentality results in drivers either blocking the lane when a cyclist could have proceeded straight or dangerously cutting a cyclist off.
Unfortunately your husband seems very immature – his logic is nearly at kindergarten level. So that means you have to explain things to him – as if he was a child. Sit him down, and with the appropriate questions, guide him to see the lack of practicality in his attempt. Ask him what he tries to accomplish – proving a point to drivers? Chances are, instead of proving he is right, the drivers’ reaction will be quite the opposite. Is it changing the law? If he disobeys a logical right of way regulation and gets hurt in the process, there will be no positive media attention. Meanwhile, if he cares for you – how can he, with a clear conscience put you through this much daily stress for a trivial personal frustration? This is indescribably selfish and fully lacking empathy. If he wants to fight for a cause, there are plenty of worthwhile efforts he can contribute to.
Just have him read the driver’s handbook. “Never pass a right-turning car on the right side.” http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/section3.1.shtml
While I would never defend bad Toronto drivers (there’s plenty of them; I’ve had a close call with an entitled asshat driver in a luxury vehicle nearly run me over while he was on his cellphone, and he didn’t even notice), I see a lot of bad cyclists as well.
While the ones who wear headphones or don’t wear a helmet (or both) are risking permanent injury to themselves, it’s particularly worrisome when I see some cyclists regularly ignoring all the rules of the road. I can’t tell if they don’t know what the rules of the road are, or they just don’t care, but they do the most dangerous things that I can’t help but wonder how they haven’t been run over by accident by the myriad bad Toronto drivers, who probably wouldn’t even notice they ran someone over. :P I’ve also seen pedestrians nearly get run over by cyclists going way too fast on bike/walking paths that are meant to be shared, or worse, on the sidewalk where cyclists aren’t even supposed to be.
I do think the fact that there aren’t separate, protected bike paths is only fuelling the problem on all sides.
Tell your husband that there are enough crazy people in Toronto that eventually ramming someone’s car is not going to end well…..
your husband is a idiot. i hope he ends up splattered on the pavement.
As a cyclist who has been hit by cars, this letter is fabricated. No cyclist would deliberately ram a moving car or truck with a bicycle more than once. Getting hit by a moving vehicle hurts, even just casual contact. Cyclists do everything they can to avoid hitting or getting hit by moving motor vehicles. Yet the writer states her husband has repeatedly rammed moving cars. I call bovine byproducts (male derived),
I think you should explain to him once again the error of his ways, and also seeing as he is your husband, take out a big life insurance policy on him, so when something happens you can benefit, even if he was to stupid to follow some common sense.
Your husband is an idiot! But he probably knows that already.
tell your husband to grow up. We already have reckless bikers and drivers (especially the ridiculous exponential growth of taxis on the road now). Is it really worth losing your life over?
Omg – YES! Took the words from my mouth!
Have him ram my car when I am observing right away safely, and I’ll ensure he never perfoms his act again. Promise.
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