Cyclist ‘grabs a brain’

In Friday's Yukon News, you printed a letter from Rita Smith (Bikers Should 'Grab a Brain,) regarding cyclists. After reading it, I felt many things, anger being first and foremost.

In Friday’s Yukon News, you printed a letter from Rita Smith (Bikers Should ‘Grab a Brain,) regarding cyclists.

After reading it, I felt many things, anger being first and foremost. As an avid cyclist for many years, I felt cyclists in general were being labeled as stupid scofflaws, recklessly endangering everyone operating a vehicle on the highways.

I felt so strongly about this letter and how I perceived it that I called her to talk to about it.

At first, it was obvious that we were both very fired up about the issues she raised in her letter, but as we talked and indeed argued about the issues of cyclists on the highways, it became very obvious to me that she had some very good points. While her letter may have raised the hackles of this cyclist, they are nonetheless very important issues affecting how cyclists are perceived.

In the end, we had a very amicable discussion about many issues in the Yukon and we both agreed that sometimes the best way to effect change is to tackle it from within.

As cyclists, we can be our own worst enemies. The very freedom that riding a bike brings can encourage us to take liberties with the law, as in, it doesn’t apply to us.

With the nicer weather upon us, and an increasing numbers of cyclists taking to the highways, there are a number of things to keep in mind.

As per the Yukon Motor Vehicle Act:

213(2) A person who is operating a cycle on a highway shall ride as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

215 A person operating a cycle on a highway shall not ride to the side of another cycle travelling in the same direction, but shall ride directly in line to the rear or the front of the other cycle, except when overtaking and passing the other cycle.

Cyclists have many rights on the highways, as do motorists, however, with these rights come responsibilities.

Cyclists have all the rights that motorists do under sections 11 and 12 of the Motor Vehicle Act and they also have the same duties.

Under the act, cyclists are treated essentially as slow-moving vehicles and must act accordingly. These rules are not just for cyclists’ protection, but for the protection of all highway users – cyclists and motor vehicles alike.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have broken these rules on occasion when riding with other cyclists. It’s easy to ignore them when on a long road ride and chatting with your buddy. But it doesn’t make it right, and bottom line is, it’s dangerous, not to mention that it angers law-abiding motorists.

So I ask all fellow cyclists to please be aware of your actions and how your riding style can affect others and how it affects how we, as a group, are perceived.

With some courtesy, common sense and respect, there is room for all to safely use our highways.

Paul Christensen

Whitehorse