Ironically, on the first 2 days of Bike To work Week…I don’t work. Yesterday and today are days off for me, but hopefully you’ve decided to cycle into work! I have noticed a lot more bikes on the road the last few days, so my initial impression is that the message is getting across. I’m back to work tomorrow, so I’ll get to contribute to my team’s totals! There is lots going on this week, take a second to read this over.
Every time I pick up the paper, I seem to read a letter to the editor about how cars hog the road, or how cyclists are reckless and dangerous to everybody around them. The more motorists’ complain about how some cyclists navigate between cars, the more cyclists bitch about safety. Then the cyclists bitch about how cars don’t give them space, and motorists complain about not having enough room on the road. I’m sure that we can agree that there are “good” and “bad” drivers and cyclists. There are those who share the road, use their signal lights (or hand signals) stop at stop signs, and keep off the side walks; and those who don’t. Sadly, it’ll always be this way. Complaining won’t change the culture of motorists or cyclists. What will fix the problem, and make it so cyclists and motorists can live in harmony is; better city planning. Sadly, North American cities are built for cars, not for people. Planners, developers, etc. build commercial zones and new neighborhoods based on the assumption that everybody is going to drive there. Victoria is a great city to be a cyclist, don’t get me wrong. The Galloping Goose is great and there seems to be a good amount of bike lanes, but there simply isn’t enough for cyclists. If there were more lanes, there would be more cyclists. I firmly believe that. I drove EVERYWHERE for the better part of the last 12 years or so, and it wasn’t until I started to cycle that I realized that cycling was an after thought during a lot of city planning in the past 20 or so years. The good news; it seems to me that local municipalities are committed to doing the right thing: Esquimalt road was under construction, for what felt like 10 months, and it now has a bike lane.
If cities were planned in such a way that people had to travel less to get to work, services, shopping and schools, we’d all be better off. If it were easier to become a cyclist, more people would do it. This means more bike lanes and more secure places to lock up bikes. In Hollland, the government supplies bikes to people! A fleet of bright orange bikes are spread all over the city for anybody and everybody to use. Live downtown and need to get to Camosun? No problem. Find a “bike shack” grab a bike and cycle the 12 to 15 minutes to Camosun. When you get there, park it in another secure bike shack for the next person. Easy. I’m not sure if the program would fly here in Canada, but I’d sure like to see the government try.