Letter to the editor – road etiquette please

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Dear Editor,

I’m an avid cyclist and have enjoyed exploring the roadways around my rural home just outside the village of Oxford Mills. For two days in a row, I’ve been nearly sideswiped by cars passing me while other cars are coming in the opposite lane.

I was, in a past life, a professional driver for 11 years, trained to drive 40 and 60 foot buses for OCTranspo. I have been driving since I was 16, and have never had an accident. I consider myself an experienced driver, not only in terms of years behind the wheel, but also in terms of the training and time in the driver’s seat while a professional driver.

I also used to drive a motorcycle, and l quickly learned that 1) other motorists just don’t see you or 2) just don’t care that you are there, operating an open vehicle, with no protection around you. I eventually sold my bike because I truly didn’t feel safe on the roads, because of the behaviour of vehicle drivers.

As a bicycle rider, if cars are approaching me, I don’t hear a car behind me, and am taken unaware by their sudden appearance at my left shoulder. As a cyclist, I am considered a “vehicle” and must obey the rules of the road. As such, I would expect these drivers to have to stay in their lane when vehicles are approaching from the opposite direction, when there is an impediment (me, the “vehicle”) in their lane. Instead, these two drivers blew by me, not even checking in their rear mirror to see that I was okay. STUPIDITY, total stupidity with no care except for where they needed to go, and how fast they could pass me. Everyone is out for themselves on the road, seemingly ignorant of the rules of the road, and/or blind to others sharing the road.

In pre-COVID times, I commuted on the 416 from Kemptville to Ottawa every day, 2 hours in the morning and generally 1.5 hours to get home. I certainly haven’t missed THAT part of my day. Having escaped that torture, only to have to deal with the single-minded behaviour of other drivers on my rural roads REALLY makes me angry. I am entitled to the use of the roads I pay taxes to maintain. I am entitled to take care of my physical and mental health without risk to my person on a daily basis.

Driving is a privilege, not a given right. If you can’t pay enough attention to me as a cyclist, or a dog, or child, suddenly appearing on the roadway, or any other event that can happen in an instant, then STAY OFF THE ROAD.

So, if you happen to be driving around my neighbourhood near Oxford Mills, and see a cyclist in the middle of the lane, that’s me. I’m going to take my lane, as a vehicle on the road. Sure, I know that as a cyclist I am supposed to be at the edge of the roadway, but if I’m in the lane, then idiots can’t blow past me. I’m going to get one of those nerdy rear-view clip-on helmet mirrors as well. I really don’t want to be killed or injured by some clown in a hurry to get to the LCBO or Walmart.

Lynn Kennedy
Oxford Mills

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