Pedal fast, pedal hard, death lurks.

As a youngster, exploring the City of Toronto by bicycle on bright summer days was a wonderful option and a great learning experience. Those were gentler times and traffic was not too congested in a city of less than a million people. Add another one and a half million people in the same area and you have an entirely different situation. Cycling in the same traffic lanes as automobiles on major arteries today means that cyclists are going to get injured and killed.

There are very good reasons for this inevitability. They are a temperate climate, topography and traffic congestion.

To start with, Toronto is in a temperate zone. With an average of about 121 centimetres (47 inches) of snow each year, over six and seven months, there are just too many days of bad biking. There are also quite a few days of rain that that can also make cycling less than pleasant. The problem this creates is that over the winter auto drivers forget about cyclists. After a really tough winter, they have had their own problems with traffic and cyclists’ sudden appearance in nice weather creates a new hazard.

This is not to say that it is not pleasant when some good weather shows itself to take your bike to work downtown. It is hardly a problem that first time after the winter because going downtown in Toronto can be mostly downhill. Coming back home up those hills is something else. And no cyclist wants a boost up the hill on someone’s front bumper.

But the main problem is that Toronto has been tied in political knots for too many years. The city has fallen behind in meeting its transit and transportation needs. With crumbling infrastructure and senior levels of government playing cat and mouse with their responsibilities, the city is a mess. City streets hardly need an additional challenge from bicycle enthusiasts. Toronto cannot move people. It cannot move goods. And the only solution we hear from the biking nuts is we should have stiffer fines for killing cyclists and pedestrians.

The facts are that these so-called ‘vulnerable’ cycling people are turned loose on city streets without any requirement for training whatsoever. Many are unaware of the dangers that await them on busy streets. Too many are unaware of even the basic rules of the road. They are just another statistic on their way to happen.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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