Please give us a brake

Please give us a brake The cycling season is in full swing. At this time, I would like to ask for the consideration of those with whom we are sharing the roadways. Many vehicle drivers are considerate and give us our berth as required, and I thank you f

The cycling season is in full swing. At this time, I would like to ask for the consideration of those with whom we are sharing the roadways.

Many vehicle drivers are considerate and give us our berth as required, and I thank you for this.

And thanks to Whitehorse for cleaning the roads and providing more cycling paths/trails. It appears more and more people are enjoying the paths/trails and this is a benefit to us all in many ways. The number of people of all ages using the scenic Millennium Trail is truly wonderful to see Ð runners, walkers, parents with strollers, those on roller blades, cyclists, individuals with mobility challenges, tourists, et al.

While weather permits, I try to use my cycle for a variety of reasons Ð transportation, exercise, to be outdoors, and as an environmental consideration. Although it is often inconvenient and would be far simpler and faster to use my vehicle, I strive to cycle whenever possible for reasons stated.

The following are some points I would ask motorists to be cognizant of with regards to cyclists:

Using my bicycle requires a good deal of planning.

If I am cycling to work, I have to consider time constraints, weather (which is often quite different from the time I leave home until the time I am returning), clothing (what I need to bring for changing at work and time I will need to dress for cycling), helmet, cycling gear, number of layers, head band, rain gear, cycling shoes, bike lock, water bottle, lunch, wallet, etc.

I also need to think about meetings, which may be elsewhere, places I need to be, things I need to do after work, what it is possible to carry in my pack, where I can safely lock my bike, and so on.

Drivers may not be aware of some of the other factors we contend with when sharing the roadways with motorized traffic.

We usually prefer to ride on the right-hand shoulder of the road or in a bike lane whenever possible.

Unfortunately, the right-hand shoulder of the road is often rife with cracks, potholes, stones, and other debris. This can be disastrous if you are a cyclist on a road bike and your wheel encounters any of these. So, sometimes, we may edge onto the main part of the roadway for safety reasons to avoid these Ð it’s often not because we feel entitled to this part of the roadway.

Approaching intersections is another challenge for cyclists.

We will often try to time our approach to make a green light, but this, of course, isn’t always possible. As we stop for the intersection we are often in a higher gear. Stopping completely often strands us in a high gear and, with most cycles, one has to be moving to make the gears work. So we are sometimes trying to change gears as we move forward into the intersection.

If we’re wearing cycling shoes that clip into the pedal, we also have to disengage at least one shoe to stand with our cycle until the light changes. Then we have to re-engage the shoe into the clip while moving forward in the intersection as we are also trying to change gears. So moving through the intersection can be a slow and awkward process until we are able to attain the appropriate gear/speed again.

As with other modes of transportation, there are many who comply with the rules of the road and, of course, there are some who do not.

For the most part, cyclists try to be considerate, courteous riders. We are certainly not in a position to be aggressive drivers and recognize we are very vulnerable in terms of safety as users of roadways shared with motor vehicles.

I would hope we can all share the roadways respectfully and would just like to ask for motor vehicle drivers’ consideration and to please give us the benefit of the doubt at times, bearing in mind some of the above when sharing the road with us.

While we may seem a nuisance at times, we are, for the most part, simply trying to enjoy the benefits of cycling.

While attending Ritsumekien University in Kyoto a few years ago, I enjoyed using an Asian bicycle daily to get to and from my classes and for other transportation around Kyoto.

As in much of Asia, bicycles are a common mode of transportation for a many people. I would see businessmen/women in suits, parents with children, well-dressed older women and men, young people, old people and all in between using cycles as a matter of course.

The nice thing about riding a cycle there is the cyclists and pedestrians share the sidewalks Ð which are often not wider than ours. The bike lane is on the right side of the sidewalk. Although Kyoto is a pretty densely populated city, this presents no problem and appears to work very well.

As we see when travelling to other countries, there is more than one way to do things. Perhaps this is something we should think about.

Brenda Morrison

Whitehorse