Ah spring. Tulips are blooming, sidewalk patios are opening, soft-serve ice cream is filling waffle cones and, for those of us too meek and/or too sane to ride in winter, dusty bicycles are being hauled up from the basement. Cycling is awesome, right?
Cue abrupt screech of needle scraping across record.
It’s bad enough that us cyclists must cope with blabbing/eating/carelessly turning car drivers and a mayor who hates our guts and applauded the death of dedicated bike lanes on the least-steep south-to-north street in the downtown core. But the sad truth is: lots of cyclists in this town act like complete idiots.
You’d think two-wheel warriors would offer each other courtesy and solidarity. Ha! As we’ve said before of evil TTC riders and appalling airline passengers, certain deportment (handily itemized below) blows and should be halted immediately. If you recognize yourself on this list, know that your fellow riders loathe bozos like you who give conscientious cyclists a bad name. But it’s never too late to change.
1. Sidewalk riders
I don’t care if you’re steering straight towards a bike rack; it is never, ever OK to ride a bike on the sidewalk. Like most people, I am also a pedestrian and I don’t want to have to dodge you and the monster baby strollers separating me from my local. And if you glare at me like I am in your precious way—as sidewalk riders invariably seem to do—know that you suck and deserve to endure excruciating pain. Yes, I hate you that much.
2. Stoplight ignorers
Just because an intersection dead-ends into a T-shape doesn’t mean you can barrel through a red light, endangering pedestrians and startling stopped drivers. I live at Greenwood, and I have lost count of the number of times a bike zooming east on Danforth has nearly clipped me as I crossed north on Linnsmore Crescent on a green light en route to the subway. Red lights apply to everyone always, even those wearing helmets. Speaking of…
3. Helmet shunners
My esteemed editor said it best: “If you don’t wear a helmet while cycling in this town, you are insane. The worst case of helmet-head in the world still doesn’t look as bad as your brains splattered on the pavement.”
4. Streetcar ignorers
Have you noticed that passengers entering and exiting streetcars in the city of Toronto need to access the curb lane to do so? Crazy, huh? That means that cars—and, newsflash, bicycles—need to stop well behind the rear doors of a streetcar to ensure said passengers can safely negotiate the 10 feet between vehicle and sidewalk. And by stop, I mean stop. Not: put one foot down on the ground and propel yourself forward with it through the crowd.
5. One-way street ignorers
I also don’t care if the street you’re traversing is in deepest suburbia. If it’s a one-way going west, you damn well better be going west, too. I once watched an elderly woman walking a dog very nearly get creamed –while being terribly startled—by a cyclist roaring the wrong way down a one-way as she stepped off the curb having looked only in the direction traffic should have been coming from. (What are you now, a dog killer?) If you must go in the opposite direction, get off your bike and walk it.
6. Impromptu turtles
You know how infuriating it is when old people and tourists get to the top of an escalator and then just stop to look around? The bicycle equivalent goes like this: Joe Raleigh rockets to the front of a line of cyclists waiting at a red light, and then, once the light turns green, slooowly pushes off, holding up everyone else. It’s cool if you want to dawdle, but don’t butt up front to do it.
No less annoying and potentially dangerous are speed demons, who swerve in and out of traffic and around hapless pedestrians while whipping past other riders, often way too closely and sometimes (inexcusably) on the right-hand side without so much as a wee ring of the bell. And stop signs? Meh. If you want to race, hit the trails; it’s called cycling, not slalom. (Unless you are a professional courier, in which case you can probably outmanoeuvre any potential mishap while looking stupidly cool doing it.)
Four words: don’t text while riding. Actually, make that six words: don’t text while riding, jerk wad. Use your hands for something productive… like signalling your damn turn.
Yes, there are loads of nasty, abusive, road-hog car drivers out there. But there are also plenty of cyclists who seem bent on deliberately provoking drivers—those who roll right up to the right side of a right-hand turning car, for example, instead of just hanging back and letting the car finish the turn before proceeding, or proceeding on the car’s left side. Do you have the right-of-way? Absolutely. But death is a ridiculous way to make a point.
Maybe it’s just my neighbourhood—and OK, Parkdale—but it seems as though all the local booze hounds are also bicyclists. You can tell because they’re the dudes weaving all over the road, mounting the sidewalk (especially at the T-shaped intersection at Linnsmore and Danforth to avoid stopping at the red light) and just generally threatening to flatten everything in their path. That goes double for dudes who are about to get drunk and are wobbling all over the place trying to balance a full 2-4 on their laps. Ever notice how those guys are always—always—riding a bike that’s way too small? And to think I thought a Beer Store at the top of the street was a great idea when I moved into the ‘hood. Jeesh.
What cyclist behaviour annoys you the most? Let us know in the comments section below.