Featured Story Rants

Segregated bike lanes the only way to save lives of cyclists

Norris McDonald
Written by Norris McDonald

Photo Caption: Several bicycle riders were killed on Toronto streets this week in collisions with cars and trucks. There is only one sure way to cut down on the carnage, and that is to build  segregated bike lanes.

“It’s a war out there.”

We’ve all heard that expression. I’ve used it myself – except that when I use it as a driver, I mean the war being waged by cyclists against motorists.

Whenever I’m driving in Toronto, particularly in the downtown, and I see a cyclist ahead of me on the road, my blood pressure goes up. The last thing I would ever want to do is hit that cyclist – and my heart aches when I hear that someone riding a bike has been killed (my children are cyclists, and we’re teaching my grandson to ride) – but many cyclists in Toronto are unpredictable and I don’t know what to expect as I approach him or her.

Will he suddenly decide he wants to ride on the other side of the street and cut across in front of me, as happened on Bathurst St. a year ago? Or be riding – illegally – on a sidewalk and then use a crosswalk? Don’t tell me you haven’t seen that one.

I have a friend who was near tears this week telling me how she had to be taken to the hospital after she was run down by a cyclist on Queen’s Quay, down near Lake Ontario. She said she was crossing the street on the light and he came out of nowhere.

Some cyclists have such a sense of entitlement that they think they can do anything. Any time someone suggests licensing, there is such a hue and cry it makes it impossible to have a sensible conversation.

Cyclists break the rules of the road. This is not news. They go through red lights, they ride the wrong way along one-way streets. I can be waiting at a red light to make a legal right turn, and I’m in the right-turn lane, and there’s a broken white line allowing me to go into the bike lane (if there is one) to make that turn, and I’m looking left, waiting for a break in the traffic, and a cyclist will still ride right up beside me on my right side, manoeuvre around in front of me, and pedal past.

This sort of thing happens all the time. I am not proud about this, but I actually drove after a cyclist who pulled that stunt on me at the corner of Yonge St. and Queen’s Quay and I yelled at him. I was very upset, because if I hadn’t  seen him at the very last second and braked, I could have killed him.

That got me the finger. I could go on.

How to stop car-bicycle fatal accidents from happening? There are many opinions. Most are valid. But education won’t work. Many drivers know cyclists have every right to be on the road but couldn’t care less about them. And suggesting speed limits be lowered? If you are standing still, you will still be dead if the car (or bike) that hits you is going 20 kms or 40.

I suggest there is only one way to properly manage cars and bicycles on the same roads: bike lanes segregated from automobile traffic by permanent pylons or concrete curbs. And these bike lanes should be on every street and road, not just some, as is the case in Toronto today.

This would make it safer for everyone – motorists as well as cyclists. Motorists will know where the cyclists are and vice-versa.

I have made this suggestion before. If you are interested in what I had to say on the subject in 2015, please Google “Norris McDonald bike lanes.”

The time to act is now. Stop talking about it and just do it. Otherwise, more people will be killed and we’ll still be here arguing.

And finding ways to blame the other guy.

Email: nmcdonald@thestar.ca