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Cyclists and motorists: Why can't we be friends?

Just because Lady Gaga showed up in the clubhouse of the New York Yankees, doesn’t mean she hates hockey or soccer.


Just because Lady Gaga showed up in the clubhouse of the New York Yankees, doesn’t mean she hates hockey or soccer.


I mean, she could hate hockey or soccer. I haven’t asked her about it. I’m just saying that being around pro baseball players isn’t a definitive way of saying baseball is her only sports-related interest.


Same thing for us motorists. Just because we hang around gas stations and the occasional Tim Hortons drive-thru, doesn’t mean we hate cycling and cyclists. In fact, many of us are avid cyclists, and are extremely hip to everything the bicycle can offer — to the transportation cause, to overall health, to the quest for fun.


During riding season, I often take my bike instead of the car, because it’s easier and quicker, especially in the city.


Driving in a downtown core can sometimes be whacko. Gridlock. Closed streets. No parking or extremely high-priced parking. But with a bicycle you can almost glide to your destination, and once there, you can actually park — right in front of the building, and for free


Sometimes I ride because it’s simply more fun than sitting in a car. Of course, there are so many times when driving a car is a hoot. But we all know there are times when we drivers are either completely tuned out, like a 10-year old boy in French class, or frustrated to the point of gnawing on the steering wheel. I rarely feel frustration and/or mind-numbing tendencies when I’m pedalling my bike. It seems to be more calming and engaging at the same time, if that’s possible.


I know it’s hard to feel chummy and/or solidarity with a cyclist that just gave you the finger because he didn’t like the way you didn’t signal, but we need to get past feeling like we’re on two different teams.


We should continue to give them the respect and space they need to stay alive on our mutual pieces of pavement.


But I also think some riders should appreciate how many times we motorists (especially those that bike), give cyclists a fair or better shake than they deserve. A lot of times they don’t even know we’re doing it.


Considering that, it wouldn’t hurt if they could give us a wee bit more slack, when we inadvertently cause them the odd sphincter-tightening moment here and there.


Whenever there is a something to be hashed out between cycling interests and motoring interests, the discussion (or argument) always seems to get characterized as an “us versus them” thing. I’m not sure it needs to be.


Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for over 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.

 
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