View Royal Mayor David Screech took to social media this weekend to try and put the brakes on the increasing anger and hostility he’s witnessed and experienced towards cyclists after a couple of near misses last week that could have had devastating results.
Screech, a commuter cyclist since 2008, said he posted details of the incidents because of the importance of addressing courtesy and respect for all users of the road.
After leaving his store on Thursday at 5 p.m. to get to View Royal Town Hall for a meeting, Screech cycled along a route he takes frequently over the Bay Street Bridge, which he described as a harrowing experience, and then along Wilson Street.
Although Wilson Street is narrow, it allows him to connect with the E&N Trail, “where I can ride safely away from all drivers,” he explained. An SUV that passed him immediately moved as close as possible to the curb. “I would like to think this was accidental,” Screech said.
“I was lucky in that I was right by a driveway apron and was able to get off the road to avoid being hit.”
Although to the driver’s credit he did stop to ensure Screech was all right, he then launched into a tirade that included: “All cyclists are idiots and I should not be on the road. A car that was forced to stop behind also chimed in throwing all sorts of pleasant adjectives my way, not only about me, but cyclists in general, ” according to Screech’s post.
“Clearly it was very inconvenient for them to have to stop for a moment to see if someone was alright.”
The next morning, Screech was cycling along his daily commute that takes him along the Galloping Goose past several roads that include stop signs and signage that cyclists have the right of way. “You always have to be exceedingly careful at these and drive defensively,” Screech noted.
After a driver drove through the stop sign and across the trail near the Red Lion Hotel in what he described as a very close call, Screech says the driver told him to be more careful.
“The growing intolerance and indifference between different user groups on our roads is very worrying. The anger and dislike for cyclists is really worrying. I see it on social media daily and I really see it on the roads.”
A cyclist is seldom going to walk away unscathed in an altercation with a motor vehicle, Screech said. “Our roads belong to all.”
Climate change and the resulting need to reduce the use of fossil fuels will result in more cyclists on the road, he said. “We need to coexist peacefully.”
Screech pointed out that that he sees bad cyclists, drivers and pedestrians every day, and no particular group has a monopoly on bad behaviour.
“All user groups need to start following the rules of the road and treat all other user groups with the respect they deserve.”