July 09, 2008

Cycling in Vancouver

I've been commuting by bike to work for the past year and a bit now and have decided that I should write down all of the stupid things drivers or other cyclists do to get the anger out of my system and not think about these incidents all day.

I've been lucky to not have any serious incidents with cars yet. The most serious one was where a car swerved around a left turning car and came right into the bike lane I was in on Homer and nearly sandwiched me into a parked car. I actually had to hit on this car with my hand and they didn't even stop, lucky for them I didn't catch up with them afterwards.

I think that I've managed to avoid any serious incidents by being hyper aware of what is going on around me and not being too aggressive (most of the time). There are a number of things I see drivers do on a regular basis that you should be aware of if you cycle often in Vancouver.

The most annoying habit I see almost every day is people drifting through stop signs and not looking both ways while doing so. This happens most frequently on the Adanac bike route typically on Union St. between Gore and Vernon. The problem with people drifting through stop signs when turning left is that they tend to always do so such that I'm in their blind spot caused by the passenger side A-Pillar. I've almost not seen a cyclist myself because of this blind spot and am extra careful at stop signs to make sure I haven't missed anything.

People drifting through stop signs while turning right are usually just assholes that think they are superior to bicycles. I was cycling along Union with a friend once and a young woman in a Neon obviously saw us and knew she couldn't beat us but turned anyways and just waved. We pulled up along side her and asked what the deal was and she just said that she was sorry. Sorry for being a moronic driver that shouldn't have a license I suppose. Unfortunately I forgot to memorize her license plate number or get a cell phone picture.

This morning a guy turned right out of the parkade on Expo just before Smithe and cut off a guy on a bike ahead of me who chewed the driver out a bit. I saw it all happen and the driver was completely at fault, didn't even slow down before turning onto Expo, yet he felt the verbal abuse from the cyclist wasn't warranted and honked and gesticulated at the cyclist so I had to contribute a little bird to the situation.

Other annoying driver habits I've noticed:

  • Thinking that the bike lane makes a good temporary parking spot. It doesn't
  • Never doing a right shoulder check before moving to the right
  • Treating bicycles differently than cars at 4 way (or even 2 way) intersections.
  • Assuming that cyclists shouldn't be on the road unless there is a bike lane (While on a fitness ride on Cornwall recently I had a young woman in a BMW X3, again forgot to memorize the license plate, inform me in a somewhat sarcastic tone if I knew that there was bike lane by the water.)

    Not that cyclists are blame free. Here are some bad cyclist habits:

  • Blowing through stop signs and assuming cars will stop for you. (put a front brake on your fixie hipsters)
  • Erratic driving
  • Riding on the sidewalk
  • Going through crosswalks while riding (a good way to get hit)
  • Getting angry at drivers when the cyclist is at fault

    I expect there will be more ranting in the near future as I don't expect drivers will get substantially more intelligent on average anytime soon.

    Posted by bforsyth at 09:18 AM | Comments (2)
  • January 15, 2009

    Metro Vancouver driving lesson #83

    A stop light that isn't working doesn't mean that it is green. I know that this might be hard to comprehend, but it actually means it is a four-way stop, and get this, bicycles count too.

    Posted by bforsyth at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)