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Sharing the Road; What Do You Hate?

Posted by Kim / May 28, 2008

20080528_bike2.jpgPhoto: "voleuse de brakeless" by Midnight Poutine Flickr pooler LnTee

I have rejoined the ranks of Montreal cyclists and have commenced riding my bike to work. Even though I arrive to work rather sweaty and disheveled, it still feels better than having traveled on the metro for 45 minutes.

Now, cyclists have to share the roads with motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists. I make a very concerted effort to obey the laws of the road and respect my fellow travelers; I wish others would do the same.

So. My top three gripes as a cyclist sharing the road with people who just don’t seem to care:

Other cyclists who zoom through red lights. Even if there aren’t cars, people or cyclists coming through on their green light, they're no different from a car waiting on a red. So wait. They want people to respect them on a bicycle? They should act respectfully.

Motorists who never give the right of way. They’re in a car. They’re bound to get there quicker than me. This is especially annoying when it’s raining.

Pedestrians who put themselves in danger by blindly walking across a busy bike path, especially when it’s not even at a light. Wouldn't they look if they were crossing Decarie?

Okay. Now that I’ve vented, I’d like to hear your major complaints about having to share these Montreal roads, whether you be a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist. What do you hate?



Sarah / May 28, 2008 at 08:14 pm
Fantastic topic!
I completely agree.

My biggest pet peeves include:
Cars who stop in the middle of the bike path (that includes cop cars, which I regularly see doing exactly that).

Cars who like to squeeze in cyclists against other cars.

Pedestrians who use the bike paths as an extension of the sidewalk.
Kate-ish / May 28, 2008 at 11:18 pm
Car doors. Period.
Paloma / May 28, 2008 at 11:50 pm
All of the above and
those who ride with their ass and its various cracks hanging out.
kim / May 29, 2008 at 08:54 am
I'm hanging my head in shame, Paloma. I am sure I have flashed some ass crack on occasion.

Sarah, I especially agree with the squishing technique! Though when a car is squeezing me into other cars, it's usually at a pretty slow pace, and I can't help but think that my pedal scraping all along their car will do more damage than they do to me. Hey, it's something!
Michael / May 29, 2008 at 11:42 am
I feel as though a lot of motorists look at us with disdain - like we're some kind of nuisance to their tough love existence behind the wheel. Are they envious or just annoyed? For our rep, I'll stop running those reds - just to even things out and put us on the same plain (just don't forget I'm there and open your door without looking because you're making that phone call you couldn't while driving:).
Sarah / May 29, 2008 at 09:44 pm
Today they were talking about this issue on CBC Radio 1. I think it was either on Radio Noon or Home Run.
Interesting issue though. I think the most interesting thing is that I don't think anyone is really sure WHAT the rules are when you're driving a bike. It's so ambiguous and vague. On one end of the spectrum, we should observe the riles of the road like any motorists, but truth is, we can't do that because the reality is that we're NOT driving heavy, visible, motorized vehicles, so it doesn't make sense to have the same set of rules. While we don't have the same power as we would if we had motors, we can't be considered like pedestrians either and we don't want to cause harm to the people going around on their two feet.
I think the city should initiate a public forum on this issue. It's pretty important really... for all parties involved.
kim / May 29, 2008 at 11:14 pm
On Two Wheels:
has lots of interesting tips, tricks and perspectives on some of these things.

In the comments from this entry, some of the Quebec Highway Safety Laws are discussed, pertaining to cycling:

A good read, and something I think all cyclists should be aware of.
Denis / May 30, 2008 at 09:26 am
My pet peeve is cyclists riding the wrong way on one-way bike paths. Don't they understand that if there's a bike path going East there's surely one going West one street away???
I really enjoy shouting 'ONE-WAY!' as we cross paths, even though it does absolutely no good.
kim / May 30, 2008 at 09:32 am
What about riding a bicycle the wrong way on a one-way street? How do people feel about that?

I know I do it sometimes - but only when it's for a few blocks at most. I can always see that drivers don't look too happy with me.
panic, french / May 30, 2008 at 10:27 am
Je deteste:

1. Cyclists on sidewalks. If you are over the age of 12 and on your bike, get off the sidewalk. Or, if you insist on being on the sidewalk, don't give ME, pedestrian, dirty looks when I "get in your way".

2. Large groups of pedestians who take up the entire sidewalk and walk very very slowly. This also applies to the idiots who run into old friends and need to catch up while standing in the middle of the sidewalk. Also the people who leave a store and fuss about with their bags and crap right outside the entrance, blocking it.

3. Cars that don't even bother to attempt to slow down when approaching a CLEARLY MARKED ped crossing.

But one of my biggest annoyances which has nothing to do with sharing the road/sidewalk/whatever is parents who insist that their children wear bike helmets, yet do nothing to protect their own noggins, which are just as likely to break open and spread brains around as the heads of the wee ones.
panic, french / May 30, 2008 at 10:35 am
P.S. One way streets mean ONE WAY. Everyone who ignores this, even for "just a few blocks", be you a motorist, bicyclist, skateboarder, etc. is an idiot. Period.

Yep, it might be more convenient, but you are endangering yourself and others by being an a-hole. Stop it. Also, how lame would it be to get hit by a car, or hit someone else, and have to live with that: "This head injury? Which prevents me from living the way I used to before I went the wrong way down a one way street? My fault. I was going to be 5 minutes late for work but instead I was in the hospital for 6 months and I can't feed myself anymore."

kim / May 30, 2008 at 10:47 am
Someone who seems to feel more passionately about this than me. Thank you for the list.

Even worse than parents who insist their kids wear helmets while they do not are the parents who don't insist that their kids wear helmets.

I don't see much of a problem with people who walk slowly on a sidewalk though. It isn't much trouble to walk around them. And, it is a sidewalk - there's no minimum speed limit.
Salomé / May 31, 2008 at 11:10 pm
Hey It's me on the picture LOOL
Salomé / May 31, 2008 at 11:10 pm
Hey It's me on the picture LOOL
G / June 1, 2008 at 03:49 pm
This is a sick topic! Opening car doors and cars turning with absolutley no regard for what's around them bother me the most. However, I realize that when I use the road, whether I'm by bike, car, or on foot, I have to share it with everyone else on it and that includes a smorgasboard of doorknobs. I think stupid an inconsiderate people can negatively influence anything enjoyable or productive (see rioting after habs wins). Unfortunately, we just have to deal with it. However, it does help to vent.

A couple of things I would like to add...

No one has brough up bad policy and poor urban planning as contributing factors. I lived in Amsterdam for a year and even though the everyone in town bikes there, there are way fewer problems because their politicians have actually embraced the though of biking as a good idea. In Canada, we are slaves to our cars. Thus, our only idea of planning out roadways revolves around faciliting this form of transport. Can we maybe blame our politicians for not planning out better bike routes/paths? Can we blame ourselves for being a part of a culture so dominated by cars?
Jay Watts III / June 2, 2008 at 02:27 pm
Incessant honking from taxi drivers and bus drivers, encouraging you to, I dunno, jump onto the sidewalk or something?
Vic Tucker / June 3, 2008 at 01:40 am
What I hate are people on bikes that think that they own the road as much as cars. Sorry streets are made for cars and bikepaths are made for bikes. Sure bikes are allowed on streets but that's because we don't have enough bikepaths.
When I drive I try to be considered of bikes. Always leave them a buffer zone when I pass them. Slow down not to scare them. But how many bikers do the reverse. In my experience, very few. First it's like rules don't apply to them. I often open the window and remind them that they shouldn't be on the road when there is a bikepath already on it. The worst is the biker that wants to piss off cars and takes a full car space and forces cars to follow at 10km/h. Then the red light comes, cars stop, bikes continue.

Hey I'm all for bikes in the city but I think it's time to issue permits and plates. We need to seperate bike and car traffic and we need to enforce some rules.
jt / June 14, 2008 at 11:21 pm

why dont we have emissions control in this province??!!
Cleo / June 16, 2008 at 10:27 pm
I'm curious - is that you in the picture? If so, then why aren't you wearing a helmet? How can you possibly gripe about anything when you choose to ride a bike without a helmet? You're putting yourself at risk, regardless of how well you drive and how much attention you pay to all the rules.
Fairfax / June 18, 2008 at 12:43 pm
This is my 9th summer biking quite literally everywhere I go in Montreal (and even Laval and Longueuil, each of which I have to go to a few times a month in the summer). Hot or cold, rain or shine (or even thunderstorm), it's either or walk or bike or stay home for me during the summer. I'm quite hardcore about it.

The only thing that's ever really bothered me is pedestrians stepping out in to bike paths without looking both ways. I've had a two accidents with pedestrians who did that.

But I don't really blame the pedestrians for that... I've even done it myself as a pedestrian, once or twice. The problem, to me, is having two-way bike paths on one side of the street. I think this is a very impractical and dangerous design, and I actually avoid these bike paths as a result. I frequently even bike in the street with the cars when there's a bike path right next to me, because I find the street so much safer.

Why force pedestrians to remember that there might be bikes coming in the opposite direction from car traffic? And even forgetting pedestrians, having bikes whizzing by in the opposite direction only a foot or two away from you is quite dangerous as well... all it takes is one person to swerve, or fall, and you have nowhere to go to get out of the way. The only other accident I've had on my bike in those 9 years was also on a two-way bike path, with a rollerblader who swerved in to my path and cut me off.

We should have one-way bike lane, going the same direction as car traffic, on each side of the street. That is how it works in the more bike-friendly European cities I've visited, such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Berlin. It's just so much more practical, because bikes are always moving with traffic, never against it. Montreal has slowly started adding more of these, just painted lines on the street like on St-Urbain for example, and I love them. That is the best, safest way of carving out space for bikes in the city.
Fairfax / June 18, 2008 at 03:49 pm
Vic Tucker, you get annoyed when bikes going 10 km/h in front of you slow you down and cause you to miss a light? I laugh out loud when cars accelerate specifically to pass me on my bike, when the light a half block ahead of us is already red and I'm just gonna glide right by them again 5 seconds later! It makes no sense whatsoever. Why not just relax, save your brakes, your gas, and your nerves, by cruising in to the red light behind me, at my speed?

And a single car trying to parallel park on a busy city street disrupts the flow of traffic behind it more than 50 people on bikes in the same block would. So how about getting rid of all parallel parking spots in the city? That would do infinitely more to make getting around the ciy of Montreal (by car OR by bike) easier than not allowing bikes on the street.

Bikes aren't allowed on the streets "just because we don't have enough bike paths". The only way to "have enough bike paths" to ensure that cars and bikes wouldn't have to share streets would be if you put a bike lane on every single street in the city. Because anywhere you might need to go in your car, a biker might need to go on their bike.

I agree bikes should follow the same road rules as cars do - bikers who don't stop at red lights or go the wrong way up one-way streets are idiots. (So are drivers who don't signal when they're gonna turn or change lanes, which is an epidemic in this city.) But why should bikes be denied acess to streets that cars can use? Why should bikers be forced to take a route that's 10 blocks out of their way if cars aren't?

Because streets are NOT just for cars. If you think that, you must be a suburbanite - because yes, the highways, autoroutes, and suburban boulevards and shopping malls built in the last 50 years were designed specifically for cars, and are in fact dangerous for bikes. I grew up in the suburbs, and I didn't ride a bike then, because my neighbourhood was not at all designed for them.

But in the city, where I live now, most of the streets were originally laid out with pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages in mind, for crissakes! They were not at all intended for vehicles as fast and powerful and noisy as modern cars.

In fact, they're terribly designed for car traffic - the streets are too narrow and too close together, there's no space for parking, and there are too many traffic lights and stop signs to allow cars to go as fast as they're designed to go. And all that stopping and starting is horrible for car engines, horrible for car brakes, horrible for car fuel efficiency.

So clearly, those streets were NOT designed for cars in the way streets in suburban areas were. They're probably better suited to bikes, which are closer to the speed of the pedestrians and horses they were designed for, than they are to cars.

In fact, the low speed limits, the number of traffic lights and stop signs, and the difficulty in finding parking means getting around by car in the city is no faster than getting around by bike! I used to be on a sports team with a friend who lived in the same building in the Plateau as me, and would consistently astound him by arriving home on my bike from games in Laval, Longueuil, or NDG before he arrived in his car.

So if anything, seems to me it makes more sense to allow ONLY bikes on most downtown streets, limit cars to major arteries that are wide enough and have few enough traffic lights to be efficient for car traffic -designated "car paths", if you will.
launa / July 1, 2008 at 08:43 am
I thought, perhaps, everything that I dislike while biking was said but I thought of one...

At saint-urbain, and sherbrooke street, going south, there is a light and a down hill slope.. It gets on my nerves when bikers whom, I guess are scared or extremely cautious, position themselves, when I am stopped at the light, in front of me and then while going down the hill in front of me, break all the way down the hill. It's not like I can necessarily go in front of them considering there are cars that travel down that road too. Just a little thing that can bother me.
launa / July 1, 2008 at 08:43 am
I thought, perhaps, everything that I dislike while biking was said but I thought of one...

At saint-urbain, and sherbrooke street, going south, there is a light and a down hill slope.. It gets on my nerves when bikers whom, I guess are scared or extremely cautious, position themselves, when I am stopped at the light, in front of me and then while going down the hill in front of me, break all the way down the hill. It's not like I can necessarily go in front of them considering there are cars that travel down that road too. Just a little thing that can bother me.
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