For three reasons, riding bicycles is very challenging. Bikes are tempting and will sit there or hang in their garage splendor waiting for spring, the tire pump, a bit of polish and the ready cyclist.
Some riders resist and are tempted to use studded tires and warm clothing.
The second challenge is the cyclist’s understanding of how to ride alongside and share the road with other road users.
The third challenge is a driver’s need to review her or his knowledge of safe driving and to be a part of the transformation of commuting. Not forgetting, as North Americans, we commonly look to other countries for inspiration: frequently, Holland and Denmark.
I learned how to navigate quite early, and, as an 11-year-old in England, took national cycling proficiency tests, and learned about courtesy, where to be on the road, and how to move over in plenty of time for any other road user.
In Holland children at the age of 12 are required to take a bicycle road test.
I would encourage us to ask our politicians and city councillors to initiate healthy policies around shared road use.
A cycling proficiency program could be a great start for spring. It is hard to expect tolerance when so many cyclists dodge about, disregarding rules and then demand a place on the road. Others are in jeopardy because of these antics (children as well).
Unfortunately a dangerous few vehicle drivers are simply not willing to share the road.
However, beyond all the stories I have avoided sharing, there is a strong health component to cycling.
I can’t think when I have seen a cyclist who isn’t happy, breathing well and quietly being part of a special event — commuting, racing, trail riding or walking a few blocks with bike in hand.
The cyclist, so studies show, is extending her or his life. I have met so many special people locally, in England and in other Canadian cities. Cycling is a fabulous chance to meet people.
So, in the interim, my best advice is to be well seen and to have lights, a bell and a good mirror. Finally, do obey the rules of the road, be courteous, and bike often.