Like the mayor of this fine city, I’m an avid bicyclist. I don’t even own a car. My ex-wife would say that’s because I can’t afford one, and as usual, she’s technically correct.
But the real story is, I’m a freelance writer, which means my life has been one long fiscal crisis, like the Johnson Street Bridge, only I can’t blame China. The bucks stop here because writing is a zero-sum game. An extra dollar in the bank means my work is a dollar the poorer. And I have no regrets. It’s a good life.
Perpetual poverty means bicycling is not an option for me, any more than the bullet was for Lincoln. So you can imagine my delight when my pick for mayor, Lisa Helps, pushed those awesome new bike paths through council and down Pandora.
You can also imagine my dismay when I gave them a go, and felt baffled and dismayed, like a Millennial whose iPhone has fallen into the toilet. I read Hegel for fun, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn left at the new intersections. Worse, there are sometimes parking spots adjacent to the lanes. Surely Lisa knows the number one way urban cyclists meet their maker is death by car door?
Eventually I realized the parkers face the oncoming bike lanes, so they should be able to see them coming. But as a cyclist I still have to check every car I pass for idiots about to commit manslaughter. It’s a habit I don’t want to break, like breathing. The design turns what might have been an anxiety-free spin through downtown into more of the same.
And why have they run two-way paths down one-way streets? It seems like a good way to get pedestrians hit. It’s natural to keep your eyes on the traffic as you cross, which means you can see the oncoming bike traffic, but the opposing stream seems to run through a sort of mental blind spot. Twice I’ve found myself strolling across the crosswalk, without looking the wrong way up a one-way street. If a bike had been coming, we’d both be in traction, or worse. I’m built like Shrek, but the cyclist might have been killed.
Makes you wonder if the biking clan was even consulted about the details. This is serious business. It’s not like we’re doing something frivolous, like tearing down a statue of the country’s founder.
Where the new paths shine is on the Johnson Street bridge. Non-cyclists cannot imagine the slippery terror of that ancient metal deck of the old bridge, with cars honking up your ass because they didn’t read the sign telling bicyclists to stay in the centre of the lane. I for one won’t miss that ugly heap of rusty crap. The new ugly heap of rusty crap is a great improvement from a peddling perspective.
So – are the new paths really as bad as I fear? Or am I missing something, like my ex-wife? Write me here at Peddling Perspectives, tell me what you think of the bike path situation, and let’s see if we can get a list of demands together before the election.
I’ll be back next week with another view from the man-on-the-bike.
Until then ―see you on the Goose!
If you like what we do at The Record and want to encourage us, please join in our efforts through our fundraising page.