Conflict Between Cyclists and Motorists

Conflict Between Cyclist and Motorists

Why is it that cyclists and motorists cannot respect one another on the roads here in Winnipeg?

This is an issue that both motorists and cyclists should be concerned about and see if they can do anything to better the situation. In this article I will attempt to analyze and conclude a reason or reasons as to why these two groups of road users cannot co-exist on the roads peacefully.

For starters I think that one issue is a lack of awareness of several factors with regards to cyclist rights as well as an understanding at times of the laws of physics and how traffic flows.

Let’s start with a look at cyclist rights with regards to the Canadian Highway Traffic Act. In section 145 of the Canadian Highway Traffic Act, it states “a person operating a bicycle or power-assisted bicycle on a highway or bicycle facility has the same rights and duties as a person driving a motor vehicle on a highway…”. Given this it is important for motorists to recognize that right and give cyclists the same respect that they would give another motorist. On the flip side of this cyclists should also recognize that they have a responsibility to operate the bicycle in the same manner as a car, and should therefore stop at all stop at traffic lights, signal, etc.

Now let’s connect cyclist rights with the laws of physics. As nice and clear as would be if the Highway Traffic Act was the how to manual of riding a bike in traffic, the truth is it isn’t. The truth is cyclists only weigh around 200 pounds, while motor vehicles are approximently 4000 pounds, so if there is a physical conflict between a car and a bicycle it is pretty obvious who is going to win. Therefore there are places in which cyclists should recognize when they aren’t a motorvehicle and therefore should try pass a pedestrian in those situations. ex: If it is down to 1 lane on places like Dugald, McGillivray, Kenaston etc. Given the speed difference and the lack of metal surrounding you, it is probably better to just try and walk your bike through the construction if it is safe. Judgement calls like this may infuriate some motorists who think that cyclists are trying to get the best of both worlds. However in some cases it is required in order to avoid disturbing the flow of traffic to a dangerous level, as well as putting yourself in an extremely high risk situation of getting clipped by a semi.

Like many conflicts this seems to derive from a lack of understanding on both parties. Some cyclists may not know how to effectively move with the flow of traffic which can be dangerous and lose the respect of drivers. While some drivers may not recognize cyclists rights to the road or the unique challenges a cyclist faces on the roads which can lead to confusion. In conclusion I suggest that cyclists try to make an effort to behave more like a responsible motorist when practicable and recognize the laws of physics when it starts getting hairy. At the same time motorist should try to recognize cyclists rights and responsiblities. Also recognizing that roads at the moment really aren’t designed for cyclists and that sometimes it is safer for a cyclist to just go on the sidewalk for a couple blocks.

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