Motorists versus Cyclists – cyclists won’t win

I am part of an avid bike group that gets together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the summer months and bikes a 28 km loop around the outskirts of Waterloo.  For most of these mornings it is a great workout and a very invigorating experience.

However, there have been a few clashes with angry drivers who believe that cyclists should have no part of the road.  One such incident occurred on a beautiful morning while we were finishing our morning ride down Benjamin Rd. in Waterloo.  The scenery on this ride is spectacular as the sun rises over the city of Waterloo as we ride downhill directly into the sunrise against the backdrop of the Mennonite farms and Waterloo suburbs.  It is quite breathtaking and makes me appreciate the fantastic city that we live in.

The problem with this ride is there are no bike lanes and the road is a minefield of potholesand cracks that can send a unsuspecting cyclist for a nasty spill.  On this morning one of our group was riding tandem, something that really irks most drivers.   Part of his reasoning is to force the motorist to treat us like a vehicle and do a proper pass as opposed to squeezing us into the potholes in the rightmost 1/2 foot of pavement.  On this morning this driver felt that we had no business being on the road and even though he had a completely vacant left lane to pass us,  he felt he’d teach us a lesson by skinning the knee of one of our cyclists with his 2000 pound hunk of metal.  To top it off after doing this he decided to pull over and give us an expletive laced mouthful as to why we should not be out on the roads.  After nearly killing one of group we were not too happy to get a lecture from this guy and let’s just say nothing was resolved satisfactorily to either of the parties.   After this heated discussion, we went on our merry way … single file I might add and he decided to cut very close to us again.

Now here’s my question to you motorists out there that dislike bicyclists sharing your roadways.  Why would you want to risk killing a human being over something so silly as not wanting to slow down?   Why not treat the cycling group like any other slow moving vehicle and wait for your opportunity to pass?

I have been told that this particular motorist has done this a few times to members of our group so he’s obviously got built up frustration with the cycling community.  Let’s hope he lightens up before he tragically kills someone.

9 thoughts on “Motorists versus Cyclists – cyclists won’t win

  1. Good reminder that you can’t win against these knuckle-draggers… Unless you’re in a sufficiently large group and he decides to get out of the car.

    Sure is frustrating though to be helpless.

  2. I know there are a lot of group riders who take to rural Niagara every weekend, I can’t say exactly how they are treated, I will say that my experience is mixed. Rural St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake I found people to be great. A lot of farms and wineries and the people who work on them are extremely friendly and courteous. They were always waving and yelling their hellos from tractors. Of course wine-cycling tours have really taken off here so they also know to treat potential touring customers with respect.

    The rural parts of Niagara Falls are a little less friendly. Can’t say how Fort Erie and south Niagara are, however usually the anti-bike rhetoric from callers on the radio here are from that part of the region.

  3. I’ve ridden the backroads of Waterloo quite often and haven’t had any bad experiences. I’ve had a couple honks when we’re riding tandem but tandem on some roads is a bad idea due to hidden corners, hill crests etc.

    What I appreciate about Waterloo Region is that a lot of roads have paved shoulders due to our Mennonite Horse and Buggy friends and I would say cars in the region are more prepared to slow down for slow moving vehicles than non-menno areas.

    My complaint is really sharing a regional highway with commercial transport vehicles. A summer ago I took an afternoon to bike up to Sauble Beach and had some dump trucks pass quite closely between Elmira and Listowel. Since that time the road’s been resurfaced with a partially paved shoulder … so improvements are happening. But it’s a crazy place to be and I don’t do it often .. on a bike sharing a road with a two dump trucks travelling 100km/hr beside you (one coming at you and the other coming from behind), on skinny road tires, a styrofoam helmet and a gravel shoulder.

  4. I recall seeing on Streetview the wider shoulders for the buggies in the rural parts of Waterloo.

    Thorold Stone Road which connects Niagara Falls and Thorold/St.Catharines, can be intimidating to ride on.
    The shoulder in most parts are about half a metre wide (though in some areas it’s actually 2-3 metres) speed limit is 80 and quite a few trucks use it.

    The good thing is that it’s four lanes, so most trucks (18-wheelers) will move into the other lane. I did find dump trucks would pass close, though I find this the case even within the city.

    1. Yeah, there’s some wide shoulders in the region, but the horses leave deposits that are not pleasant to clean off tires.

    1. I highly doubt any charges will be laid.

      These are from the past few days, though the incidents were 1-2 years ago:
      -Motorist who killed three cyclists in Quebec wasn’t charged
      -Motorist who killed Ottawa cyclist won’t be charged
      -Motorist who killed two cyclists (on charity ride) in Manitoba will be charged with a $5,000 fine and 3-year driving suspension.

      Six lives ended because of carelessness of motorists and the worst “punishment” was a $5,000 fine and a 3-year driving ban? We all know that people who have their licenses taken away still drive.

      1. I’m wondering if the same thing would happen if pedestrians were the ones who got hurt instead of cyclists…

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