Dear Government, When do Cyclists Start to Matter?

45% of Vehicles in Toronto are Bicycles

Bike-lanes are always a hot-button issue for people living in major cities. If you commute by car, you probably have an opinion about them. If you commute by car and you’re an a**hole, you probably use them as right-turn lanes. If you commute by motorcycle or scooter and you’re an a**hole you blast down the things in rush-hour gridlock like they’re your own personal drag-strips and all the cagers are just there to watch. Regardless of your own personal feeling towards bike lanes, bicycle commuting is a thing that’s getting bigger. As such, local, state, and federal government will have to do something about it.

“But, Jo,” I hear you asking, “when will there be enough cyclists to force governments to do something about their safety and start enforcing some of the laws on the books?”

If you’d asked me that question yesterday, I might have said “when 25% of everyone commuting in a major city is on a bicycle, then I think the government will start to care.” It turns out, though, that several cities may be well over that 25% figure I pulled out of nowhere. At least, if CycleToronto is to be believed.

I was riding in the bike lane on Toronto’s Harbord Street last week during the afternoon rush hour and thought boy, there sure are a lot of bikes, so many that I stopped to take a photo of them. It turns out that this wasn’t an aberration, but a significant trend. Cycle Toronto recently did a traffic count and found that in the course of a day, fully 45% of the vehicles on Harbord Street were bicycles.

This is a street not unlike others in Toronto, where cars and delivery vehicles commonly use the bike lane as their ATM drive-through, it is almost always blocked.

I drove up Damen AVE in Chicago a few days ago, and that number seemed a bit fair. At least, it seemed fair in Ukrainian Village in the middle of a workday. So, if so many commuters are cycling to work, then why don’t police seem to enforce moving violations that put them in danger?

In my opinion, I think at least part of the reason is that the most visible cyclists are the brain-dead jackamoes that pedal through stop signs begging for pain and death. If we could get those idiots settled down and all stopped acting like the death of an un-helmeted, dark-color-wearing cyclist running a red light is some kind of tragedy then I think the other 95% of bicycle commuters might have a decent shot at some kind of protective enforcement.

Here’s hoping, anyway.

Until that happens, the best way to get governments to behave in a more pro-cycling manner is to write letters, make noise, and vote as often as possible.


Source: CycleToronto, via Treehugger.


Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.