Rickter Scale: Dealing with bike lanes

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column

What do you call 51 per cent of the population imposing their will on the remaining 49?

It’s the textbook definition of democracy, unless you live in portions of the CRD that prefer life in the fast, err, bike lane.

While it’s laudable that Victoria has the highest percentage of people in Canada who commute to work on two wheels, let’s not lose sight of the fact that it is less than six out of every hundred rats in the race. So before we roll out more red carpet, maybe it’s time to question how successful efforts will ever be in transforming the City of Gardens into the City of Spokes Persons.

More importantly, are the millions spent on the pursuit of bike lanes on every conceivable route worth the effort? Is it worth the price inflicted on those who pave the way and pay at the pump, through property taxes and other schemes and politicians’ dreams? You know, the gas-guzzling subservient 94 per cent who have to drive carbon producing carriages to work when freewheeling on a bike isn’t an option. What other priorities are being shoved into the ditch by left-wheeling councils determined to turn Victoria into a North American Amsterdam?

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How does Victoria council justify blowing through a million dollars to fast track a plan for more bike lanes while turning a blinkered eye to the police department’s persistent pleas for more bodies on the ground?

While I realize there’s no changing the views of those who only view the world from behind handlebars, aren’t we spending too much to accommodate a fanatical few? The bride and I travel Cook Street from Tattersall Drive regularly along that stretch that features elevated bike lanes installed, it appears, to allow cyclists to look down on the rest of us. Frequently on a sunny Saturday or Sunday around noon, we can count the number of bikes in those lanes on two fingers. Joan thought she was hallucinating recently when she observed a cyclist, actually wearing a helmet no less, dismount to traverse a crosswalk.

I would probably be writing this from a wheelchair or worse if I hadn’t seen the blur of a cyclist at the last split second who almost decapitated me silently speeding the wrong way down Fort Street at 7:30 in the morning. In his defence, I was on foot at the time, hogging the middle of the sidewalk, and had the temerity to turn towards my car without a hand signal. Oh, what I would have given for the opportunity to curb his cyclepathic behaviour.

I am not declaring war on all cyclists, even though it wouldn’t be much of a battle considering how badly outnumbered they are. I’m just suggesting a temporary truce in the war on parking and motorized transportation.

Maybe it’s time to check the tires and give a little love to priorities that affect the majority before we pour more mega millions into a never-ending network of bike lanes.

Maybe it’s time to consider what else that money could be earmarked for that improves the lives of all citizens instead of catering to the ideology of a minority that peddles their view on the majority. Touch the brakes and consider the consequences before you spoke us all in the eye.


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Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.

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