As I may or may not have mentioned before, once I get home from work I become a pedestrian. If I need something from the grocery store, I walk to our local market. If somebody in the house needs a bottle of wine, I walk to the wine store. Time for a coffee break? I walk up to the coffee shop. I walk to most places in our neighbourhood.
In the old days, rather than walking I was often on my bicycle. But after having kids, I kind of quit riding my bicycle. This summer, I made a change to my local transportation habit. I became a bicyclist again.
However, I have to admit, while I was not a bicyclist, I became quite judgmental of cyclists.
When I saw a cyclist on a very busy main street, I would wonder “why is that person riding on this very busy street when just a few blocks up there is a bike lane built right along the street?”
If I saw a cyclist riding along a bike route and they did not come to a full stop at a stop sign, I would judge them by saying to myself or to the passenger in my car, “Wow, maybe they don’t know that a stop sign means to actually stop moving? That was not really a stop now, was it. Why do they think the rules of the road do not apply to them?”
If I saw a cyclist riding on the sidewalk, I would comment, “Bikes are like cars, what is he/she doing riding on the sidewalk where people are trying to walk?”
As I said, I was quite judgmental of cyclists for their behaviour on the road.
Now that I’m a cyclist again, my attitude has shifted.
Now when I see a cyclist on a busy main street I think to myself, “Perhaps they have just left a shop on this busy street and they are working their way back to the bike route. Just like I frequently do.”
Now when I’m riding along and I come to a stop sign and I see that there are no other cars approaching the stop sign, sometimes I just slow down or make a very slow stop and then keep rolling through the intersection. Perhaps it is time for more jurisdictions to adopt the Idaho Stop Sign law?
I better understand why cyclists do this. See, once a cyclist makes a full stop, it takes significantly more effort to get rolling again. Sure, a stop sign means “stop”. But why is it necessary to come to a complete stop if it is going to be the cyclist’s turn to roll out next?
And yes, sometimes I even ride on the sidewalk. Yes, in the old days I would judge cyclists for doing this. However, the reality is that if I am trying to get the half block along a main street to a shop, yes sometimes I do ride that half block along the sidewalk rather than slowing down the car traffic and risking my life and limb by riding along the main street.
It is interesting to have switched positions. You know the old cliché about walk a mile in a man’s shoes before judging him? I suppose the same cliche applies to cycling – You should roll a few kilometres in a cyclist’s shoes before judging them. It has certainly changed my point of view.