Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Cycling by the Bay

Winter has hit us again, and in a very not-nice sort of way. A weekend snowstorm has left us with snow drifts, and very icy winds. Now that the snow is over, we are left with frigid temperatures (-40 celsius with the wind chill). I’m not a huge fan of frostbite. Or winter. My ideal winter includes palm trees, tequila, and sunny beaches; I should be living in Mexico. The temperatures aren’t my complaint though. Noooo…Thunder Bay mentality is my complaint.

I applaud anyone who is concerned about the environment and is taking positive steps towards changing their life in a way to benefit the environment. I am keen on recycling (though I question how much material is truly recycled). I support reductions in emissions, and an overhauling of the forestry industry that would see the protection of forests (I’m sorry – but let’s think about this: clear cutting will eventually mean there are no trees left; we are stuck in immediate rewards, with little consideration of the future). Yes, given where I live, my views of forestry are somewhat controversial. I am concerned about mining, and am even more concerned about the prospects of raping the environment of all natural resources; I don’t care how “sustainable” mine development is – you cannot mine without some sort of impact. Again, a situation of short term gains, without long term consideration.

Ok, so while I do have concerns for the environment, I can also identify stupidity. While I understand the whole notion of cycling over motoring, I think there ought to be limits. Thunder Bay was not designed with cyclists in consideration. Our roads, even at the best of times, are seemingly dangerous places for bikes. So why, during a snow storm, and during the aftermath (when the roads are reduced in size, iced over, and generally hazardous) do cyclists feel the need to compete with motorists? We have public transit in this city – use it! Furthermore- if you truly feel the need to share the road with vehicles, then obey the laws! Yes, that means you can stop at the red lights too. Don’t suddenly decide to use the pedestrian crossing so that you can proceed through the intersection. Don’t run through the stop sign. Don’t ride two abreast. And I could go on.

In London, all cyclists wear yellow vests, helmets, have flashing head and tail lights, and are required to be well marked. And in Thunder Bay????
Hmmm….is that a cyclist up ahead? In the dark clothes? No lights? No reflectors? I think so….
Every now and then, when there is a fatality involving a cyclist, there is a public outcry regarding the lack of regard that the average driver has for bikers. Nothing is mentioned of the disregard that the majority of cyclists have for road laws in this city, nor is anything mentioned of their overall irresponsibility.

It blows me away that during horrendous weather (such as what we experienced this past weekend) cyclists will actually step out to compete on already dangerous roads. Oh and Lakeshore Drive – I understand that we don’t have public transit in Shuniah. If you want to live in the country, and do not want to drive, or do not own a vehicle, or do not have access to carpooling, I suggest that you take time to seriously consider whether or not you should live in the country. Unfortunately cars and trucks rule the road – I’m not saying its right, but that is the way it is. We are not Europe…our roads are not meant for cyclists and motorists to live harmoniously, and especially not during the winter. Rarely do you see motorcycles during the winter months – should that not be a prime indication to cyclists? Yes, I’m venting – but isn’t it time that road rules applied to everyone??!??!

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