Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cyclists the problem on our Roads!?

This letter to the Editor appeared in the Sooke News Mirror in response to the letter I sent in at the beginning of September. Here is a copy of that letter, and after that is my response to Mr Makowsky's letter sent in to the editor this week.

Our driving habits have to change

I wish to thank Don Brown for his letters concerning his near misses on Highway 14. We need to make more people aware of the very narrow margin of error we have to deal with each time we drive the highway. We can come very close to having our lives, or those of other people forever ruined or completely snuffed out, and it can be a matter of inches.
I would love to see all of Highway 14 and Otter Point Road paved with wide shoulders.This is not going to happen right away. It does need to happen for the safety of both cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, but it all costs money. Unfortunately, our government is still not giving cycling and public transit the priority it should. However, even with wide shoulders accidents can still happen. If people drive in an unsafe manner, all the best roads and infrastructures won’t help.
So this is the key. We need to look at our driving habits and realize our responsibility as motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Education and awareness is very important.Contrary to the belief of some motorists, cyclists do have a right to be on the roads. It is the responsibility of a motorist to slow down and pass a cyclist only when it is safe to pass. Sometimes a cyclist will have to move away from the shoulder and into the main lane to avoid obstacles, so it is best to give a good 1.5 metre clearance.
One of the worst offending groups are truck drivers. (speed and unsafe passing) They are not all bad. Some of the drivers are truly professional and don’t let safety sit in the back seat to productivity. It seems the pressure is on them to get as many loads as possible. Perhaps some of the blame lies with the companies hiring them, but it is ultimately the drivers responsibility, and it will be the driver who will have to live with the fact that they just wiped out and killed someone.
On the drive to Victoria from Sooke, even if you had to slow to pass 10 separate cyclists, how much longer would that take? Maybe two minutes at the very most? Is that too much to ask yourself for a more relaxed drive and knowing that you didn’t risk your or someone else’s life today?
Stephen Hindrichs
Juan De Fuca Cycling Coalition

I would like to respond to Mr. Makowsky's letter to the editor of last week.
First of all, I would agree with him in regards to the statement that our cycling habits need to change. There are certainly many cyclists out there who don't have a proper understanding of what is required to cycle safely on our roads. Some just don't know, some are young children who don't have the experience, and in some cases there are a few who just don't care. (Look for upcoming articles in the Sooke News Mirror on cycle safety)
I do however, take exception to the blanket statement : “It's cyclists not the drivers who are the problem” Mr Makowsky, I would suggest that you qualify your statement and give examples of what you mean. By sharing your concerns and observations perhaps some people can learn from their mistakes. I also would ask whether you could make that same statement to families and friends of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists killed or injured by people driving automobiles in an unsafe or reckless manner.
How many people do you know that have been killed by cyclists or pedestrians?
The reality is that people driving thousands of pounds of steel at high speeds have much more potential for doing harm than someone riding a bicycle, hence the requirements for a certain level of maturity and proper licensing. This does not mean that a cyclist cannot injure other people. The potential is there and it does occasionally happen, though usually not with serious or fatal results.
Unfortunately there are still some people who think that cyclists should not be on the roads. Some of those people show their ignorance and disregard for peoples safety by purposely driving too close to bike riders or they try to intimidate them in other ways. This happens all too frequently. I certainly hope that this is not your view Mr Makowsky.
If you would like to discuss this further, feel free to visit the Juan De Fuca Cycling Coalition blog or Facebook page. Thank you for bringing up this subject.


  1. I am sorry - but not at all surprised - to see that you have to deal with irrational prejudice in Sooke (as you know, my wife and I were almost killed by someone of this ilk while touring your town).

    Mr. Makowsky's comments are just as silly and prejudiced as the comments that abound in Vancouver's papers ... bottom line: some cyclists are idiots; some motorists are idiots; BUT bikes don't kill people; cars kill people. We all love our children (or other people's children), why then so some people reserve their fury for the scofflaws who DON'T kill children, rather than the scofflaws who DO kill children? Did you know that cars are the leading cause of death among children aged 10 - 19, worldwide? But how many children are killed by cyclists - even scofflaw cyclists?

    I am afraid it comes down to blind, naked, unreasoning prejudice - you might want to read my post "Cyclists are ALWAYS in the wrong" at


  2. Thank you for your comments! You have a balanced and sensible approach to these issues, and I find your blog reflects this. Keep up the good work in helping to raise peoples awareness! Now if we could only get more of our message out to everyone and not just preach to the converted. Maybe you should see if the Vancouver papers will publish some of your content! Go for it!