Only In Victoria could no doubt be the title of a large volume of anecdotal stories, all of which would leave readers shaking their heads, laughing and/or exclaiming, "I know exactly whom you are talking about. I met him last week!" Presently, however, I desire to share but one Only in Victoria account for the sole purpose of launching into a full-fledged rant about Victorians and their insane views on "friendliness" and traffic rules. Prepare yourself.
My daughter and I were on our bike, positioned in the left turning lane of a through-street. I awaited a break in the oncoming traffic, left arm diligently extended, when, sure enough some well-meaning driver of an oncoming car stopped (in the middle of traffic - no stop sign, no light - nothing!) and started waving his arms out his open window, apparently indicating that I should go. "It's your right of way!" I shouted, to which he impatiently implored "Just go!" Meanwhile, the driver behind him had honked her horn, and was frantically trying to navigate a passage by which she could roar her SUV around the wrongly stopped vehicle, and likely plough into some cyclist less adamant about maintaining traffic laws (and my daughter's and my safety) than I. "I obey the rules of the road!" I declared, and planted both feet firmly on the pavement. Finally, the "friendly" driver ceased to be "friendly" and carried on. The SUV driver followed, and to my surprise declared "Good for you!" as she drove by. Through her open window I saw that my supporter was a fully uniformed cop. The number of times I have come across this exact situation (minus the gratifying affirmation from law enforcement) is, in my opinion, obscene.
Dear "Friendly" Drivers:
Since when have hand gestures and shouting been the proper way to determine who has the right of way at an intersection? I know we're polite Canadians who wish to be generous and all, but if we're generous at the cost of maintaining the predetermined order of proceedings, we might as well all pull over and discuss matters of how to proceed over tea and crumpets every time we encounter a potential conflict of space. I understand that there are many cyclists who do not obey the rules of the road. Drivers therefore see cyclists as unpredictable, and would sooner get them out of sight/out of mind than face the risk of sharing the road with them properly as though they were any other vehicle. I'm sure you think you are doing us a favour. You're not. Though you may think that it is obvious why you are motionless when you clearly have the right of way, it is not. Your hand gestures cannot be seen by all the cars behind you, nor the ones in other lanes, nor the ones approaching from other streets, etc. Furthermore, many of the tens of other vehicles on the road cannot see me, the cyclist. As soon as I obey your wish and do something unpredictable (i.e., stray from the governing traffic laws), I put myself in great danger. I will not do it. (But thanks anyway.) Regardless of the fact that many cyclists will probably let you down, PLEASE assume that we will all behave as regular law-abiding vehicles, and PLEASE drive accordingly. Should it happen that some reckless cyclist causes you to have an accident, I can assure you it will be to his or her loss, a price well worth it for the sake of keeping the rest of us safe on the road.
Dear "Reckless" Cyclists:
Whether you don't know the rules of road, or you simply think they don't apply to you, I'm sorry, but you deserve to be hit. What's that you say? You weren't wearing a helmet? Well, stupid is as stupid does, I guess. I know I'm being insensitive, but I'm sick and tired of people like you ruining it for the rest of us. Don't think that disobeying the rules, and riding recklessly in traffic only puts you at risk. It gives cyclists a bad name, causing cars to behave impatiently and unpredictably around us all, not to mention the extra difficulties your behaviour places on hard working lobby groups attempting to gain more rights for law abiding cyclists on the road. I see you running stop signs and red lights, swerving in and out of parked cars, and apparently suffering from a duel personality complex as you haphazardly switch between vehicle and pedestrian rights. I don't know if it's that you don't care about your safety, or, that you're ignorant, or that you're just plain stupid. Quite frankly, I don't care. Learn to ride, or get off the road (and NOT onto the sidewalk)!
Whether you are in your fancy BMW, driving a semi, riding a bike, or hopping on a pogo-stick, if you are on the road, KNOW the rules of the road, OBEY the rules of the road, and if it is your right of way, shut-up and TAKE IT! If you do, we will all get to where we are going faster, not to mention in one piece!