The bicycle is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. 120 years ago, bicycles and horses shared the pathways of our country. For bicyclists the greatest peril was dodging the horse droppings and not getting hit by lightning.
Today through the efforts of a determined minority, the bicycle has become a form of basic transportation, rain or shine, snow or sleet. Using the battle cry of creating a healthier environment through exercise and reduction of carbon emissions, this group has conned those in charge of the public purse that they have rights on the streets.
Indeed they demand exclusive access to the major urban roads. In Guelph more than $2 million has been spent in the past two years on special bike lanes and so-called bike boxes at intersections.
Regardless, police say that most bicycle accidents occur on sidewalks. Now that is prohibited in Guelph but is steadfastly ignored by many teens and adult riders. Some of the more aggressive riders ignore stop signs and red lights, blithely refusing to accept their responsibility under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
Councillor Maggie Laidlaw, an ardent bicyclist, advocated that the “Iowa rule” be invoked in Guelph. This allowed cyclists to breeze through intersections when there was no apparent reason to stop. Maggie is also famous for predicting there will be no cars on the roads in Guelph in 20 years. There is no sign of this happening and we have 16 years to go.
In fact there are more vehicles than ever on Guelph roads.
But then that’s the mantra of the cyclists pedaling their version of sharing the roads without responsibility. If cyclists want to share the road then they should agree to be insured, tested and licensed like automobile drivers.
But much has changed in 120 years. The streets are now paved. Most people prefer the comfort provided by the modern automobile and other forms of public transportation as they go about their business than to ride a bike.
When you compare a 25-pound bicycle with a 3,000-pound car sharing the same road, the car operator will always survive in the event of a collision.