• Montreal Gazette: Cyclists need be cowboys no more

    by  • September 23, 2011 • Education • 0 Comments

    by Mira Katnick
    September 19, 2011
    Published in the Montreal Gazette

    Montreal — For those who hadn’t biked in Montreal prior to its recent transformation into a bicycling city, I would like to explain how it was to be an urban cyclist. Cyclists had to take on a different mentality; some would say they had to act like cowboys. We became cowboys because there was no place for cyclists in the city. There were no apparent regulations for cyclists, so we had to make our own rules. We’d go through intersections on walk signals; no one wanted us on the roads, so we’d follow the rules of the sidewalk. We’d go on green lights with a no-walk signal; no one wanted us on the sidewalk either, so we’d follow the rules of the road. We had to jostle our way between parked cars and speeding traffic, keeping a careful eye out for parked cars opening doors. We’d dread having to play tag with city buses, which ride at the same pace as a bicycle, weaving in and out of the path of bicycles to reach bus stops. The only way to get out of bus tag is to get ahead by running red lights. Cycling through red lights was also a necessity in order to get ahead of the adjacent traffic that would tend to turn right as soon as the light would turn green without signalling or checking for bikes. Thankfully, through the perseverance of the bicycling community in co-operation with the cities on the island of Montreal, an incredible network of appropriate bicycle paths has been built, giving access to a growing population of urban bicyclists. With this transformation there is a slow but sure change in the mentality of cyclists. We now have a dedicated place on the roads. With this newly established sense of place comes pride for our space and a desire to hold onto it and ensure that these paths are not taken away from us. We have a place to commute without jostling amongst opening doors and bus routes. We are seeing (in most places) that priority is given to cyclists at intersections and that traffic lights take into account the requirements of the cyclist. At first we had to yell at cars and pedestrians to remind them to heed the newly paced traffic lights, but now even the other cowboys on the road are starting to follow the rules set up around cyclists. I have heard on numerous occasions surprise to see cyclists stopping at red lights and stop signs, but I’m not surprised. Civil obedience is the outcome of giving a group a place in society. [Full article …]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *