The word cyclist dehumanizes people, and drivers often berate people on bicycles, but something has been bugging me for awhile.
Contrary to a recent writer’s belief, I don’t subscribe to the view that drivers’ or pedestrians’ frustration with people on bicycles qualifies as contempt or hatred of a minority group.
In the spirit of healthy dialogue on the subject, I’d like to suggest that the friction between users of the roads and sidewalks is rooted in the fact that there is inadequate or non-existent training or licensing of people who use the various vehicles.
In fact, we probably don’t think of some as vehicles at all. When streets and roads were not as congested as they are now and fewer people were commuters on bicycles or used scooters when they found walking difficult, this was less of a problem.
Now we are in need of a more comprehensive set of enforceable, mutually understood laws and permits for all categories of users on sidewalks and roads. I’d like all cyclists to fully comprehend that they are not pedestrians. They are not permitted to veer willy-nilly onto sidewalks or crosswalks. Yet, to save a few seconds of time, they do so frequently without dismounting and walking. If cyclists are not confident on the road, they shouldn’t be on the sidewalk either.
Scooters, too, require clarification as to whether they are road vehicles or sidewalk vehicles. Standards for courtesy and warning signals from scooter users would be helpful as well.
Before taking to the road (or sidewalk if permitted), all vehicle users should take training and be issued a permit or licence. Today it’s easily done online without much administrative cost. Vehicle users must show they understand the rules as well as standardized signals for the vehicle they are operating.
Clear understanding of the concessions and rights of way owed to others on the road and pedestrians on the sidewalks would do a great deal to eliminate frustrations, injuries and/or deaths on both sides.
Lynda Grace Philippsen