发信人: ironman2015 (1/2 ironman), 信区: Cycling
标 题: 必读：YOU OWN YOUR SPACE: Tips from a former bike courier on staying alive as a Toronto cyclist
发信站: BBS 未名空间站 (Mon Jun 18 14:30:58 2012, 美东)
YOU OWN YOUR SPACE: Tips from a former bike courier on staying alive as a
On this particular afternoon, it’s really easy to vicariously relate
ourselves (or our loved ones) to the woman who was crushed to death on
Dundas West and Sterling earlier today. It’s easy to think, “Wow, that
could have been me instead of her.”
Well, it wasn’t you, and be glad for that. Dwelling on the “could have
beens” is of no help to the victim, her family, or anyone else. It’s a
Rather, you have to learn to be a defensive cyclist and not be afraid to
show it. Dwell on the “what shall not bes” instead.
I’ll explain how.
Being a defensive cyclist doesn’t mean playing chicken with motorists. What
it does mean is learning to use the space around you and your bike in ways
you’re probably not really used to.
* It means learning to scream (or whistle loudly) when your bell just won
* It means persistently dinging that bell as you approach a row of street-
parked cars on any major arterial. You do this to make sure you aren’t
going to get doored. When people get doored, people get killed.
* It means taking up an entire lane — even when there’s only two-lane
* It means getting in front of a driver at a red light. This is why our
newly-installed bike boxes at selected intersections are so effective: they
give the cyclist a place where the front-most motorist has no choice but to
see the cyclist.
VISIBILITY IS SURVIVAL
This is why on red lights at every major intersection, even ones without the
bike boxes, I manoeuvre in front of a driver — not to piss them off or to
prevent them from making a right on red (though sometimes I do prevent them
in order for them to see me). I want them to see me. And I have that legal
right to be seen. They can afford to wait a few seconds for the green. I’m
a vehicle, too, and I deserve to be seen by the bigger, thuggier vehicles
Your survival doesn’t stop there. Defensive cycling is about ownership of
space around you and your bike and not being afraid to show so. If an
inconvenienced driver tells you to get off the road or out of their way,
hold your ground. While you’re there, it’s yours.
If you have a driver’s license, you know about defensive driving already —
but only when you’re behind the wheel. On a bike, this isn’t something we
’re really taught to do. Not all of us have a driver’s license because not
all of us drive.
We aren’t really trained to assert a zone of space around us when we’re
learning how to ride a bike. We’re taught to avoid being confrontational (
as a woman, I find this can be doubly so for reasons well beyond road rules)
. And by this, bicyclists are taught to be as quiet, unassuming, passive,
and non-obstructing as possible when riding.
TIMIDITY = DEATH
On the whole, we as Toronto bicyclists are surprisingly timid.
Being timid on a bicycle will eventually get you hurt or even killed.
This is slowly changing, to which I can partly attribute to better bicycle
education, better practice at commuter riding, and yes, learning from the
pros: the full-time bike couriers who must stay alive and must speak up to
make a living.
Everyone I’ve known seems to have personally seen or at least have heard of
a bike courier being obnoxious, loud, and assertive. There’s a very good
reason for that: being obnoxious, loud, and assertive keeps you alive.
I was a courier for four years. I was never hit by a car while on duty. I
pissed off many drivers (and sometimes other cyclists doing really stupid
stuff), but I did so to be seen, to remind them that parking in bike lanes
is not OK, and to point out where their breaking the law could kill me.
I’m not suggesting that Toronto cyclists should go out and try to be
hellions on wheels. No. What I am suggesting is that if you’re not used to
claiming and asserting space, particularly when on a bike, you’re going to
have to go out of your comfort zone in order to create your own safety zone.
You’re going to have to change your way of thinking about the road.
KEEP WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES
Here are three four indispensable things to remember:
1) Defend your lane.
If you’re riding on Bloor or the Danforth at rush hour, you are allowed by
provincial traffic by-laws to occupy an entire lane (specifically, 1m of
buffer space on any side of a cyclist). A lane is about 3m wide. The
rightmost lane is yours. Actually, this is the case at any hour on any road,
but use your best judgement.
If you are making the curve at Spadina Crescent, you have the right to move
to the left side of your right lane to make sure cars in other lanes don’t
try to cut across at the switchbacks.
If you are on a residential side street, you can occupy the entire right of
way, so long as you keep moving (no one needs to be driving at car at 40km/h
on a street where kids might be playing anyway).
When you’re on a bike, that lane is yours. If you’re being harassed by a
driver while you’re both stopped at a light, assert your right — even if
this falls outside of your comfort zone. If you see another cyclist being
hounded by a driver, be an advocate and affirm to the driver that the
cyclist has the legal right to occupy that space. Do so politely as a
Samaritan, but do it firmly. Let them give you the stink eye. It’s a
harmless price to pay for staying alive.
Yes, ticked-off drivers will lay on their horn and, yes, they will scream
rudies and gesticulate at you in fury, but in the end, this is harmless.
They’ll eventually go on their merry way, but in exchange, they do get to
see you and you do get to stay alive.
2) On right turns.
This cannot be said loudly or often enough: if a car or truck is hanging a
right, by law, you must manoeuvre to the left of that driver. This is
provincial by-law. They also must signal their intent to turn right. No
If you approach a stopped car without a turn signal on, and you end up to
their right — only to see that they do try to hang a right, you must tell
them to “signal your intent!” Block their way if you must. Say it loudly.
Say it intrusively. Pantomiming helps. Gesticulate to their right turn lamp.
Shout to them that “This needs to be on!”
Let them give you the finger. You get to stay alive. They learn to remember
this for the next time, because there will be a next time (if they keep
driving in this city, I guarantee it’s only a matter of time).
Again, if you see this “right-turn crush” happening to someone else, be a
cycling pal and speak up. We’re all in this together and must look after
one another, now more than ever.
3) And the basics.
If you ride at dusk, dawn, or night, have a working white light in front and
have a working red light in back. If you don’t, then don’t get on your
bike. Just don’t do it.
If you can, find the brightest-coloured backpack or messenger bag you can
buy, even if it’s a colour you hate. If you can’t, then put reflective
strips on your bag. This becomes extremely important should you plan to ride
through the winter or when it’s dark. Orange, gold, red, Day-Glo green,
and fuchsia are great choices.
If you’re trying to use your handheld, just get off your bike. No
4) One more note.
This one’s to the cocky young dudes on track fixies who waltz right through
a red light at major intersections: let me tell you about your body.
For a car moving at 25km/h, if it side-swipes you, your ribs will break.
Your body will go airborne. Your lung (or lungs) may get punctured and
collapse, making it impossible to breathe as you lie helpless on the ground.
Other bones may break. You will be wiped out for months — if you’re super
lucky. You will miss school and/or work — if you’re super lucky.
If you’re not super lucky, you will end up with a ruptured skull, crushed
pelvis, or internal haemorrhaging. You may end up gnawing on baby food for
the rest of a very long, miserable life. Or you will die, but not before
feeling this crushing pain first and wondering what you could have done
differently if only you had a second chance.
In 2009, I was side-swiped. My ribs were broken. One of my lungs was
punctured and collapsed. I was instantly thrown 7m backwards. I was wheeled
into hospital in critical condition. All because one car — a tiny Nissan
Versa — ran a red light.
I can assure you: you don’t want it. It sucks.
And if you insist on crossing intersection on a red light (and look, I think
everyone I’ve ever known has done this at least once), at least treat it
like a four-way stop before vaulting out into the lane. It shows that at
least you care enough to notice your surroundings and to be seen by others
as showing a little self-awareness.
For now, so long as Toronto’s ill-named “War on Cars” is on and we have a
quisling in the Toronto Cyclists Union, being assertive — fielding
hostilities, if necessary — is the trade-off to staying safe, staying
visible, and staying alive.
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