BY CARL MATHIS
Maureen Leunes wrote in The Guardian recently, "I think that there should be re-education of drivers who think bicycle drivers are not in the same category as vehicles."
It's not a category. Bicycles are vehicles. And while many drivers need to recognize that fact and learn to watch for these much smaller and harder to see vehicles, many bicycle drivers need to recognize their vehicle-ness.
Too often, bikes are on the wrong side of the street, where they might be if they were pedestrians. If I drove on the wrong side of the street, I would be arrested, if there had not been a head-on collision, first. In that case, I'd really be arrested.
Too often, there are bikes on the sidewalks, not in the street where they belong. Too often, they cross at a crosswalk as many pedestrians do, without a glance for traffic and whether it has time to stop for them. I've often wondered if I'd drive my four-wheeled vehicle on the sidewalk would I become a pedestrian. No. Just arrested, again.
The confusion is in not recognizing the words. Pedestrian, note the "ped" part, implies foot, or maybe feet. It's hard to walk with one foot, hop, hop. Bicycle, note the "cycle" part, implies wheel. The "bi" part just means two of them. An octakaidecacycle is an 18-wheeler.
Yes, a bike has pedals, those parts where you put your little foots. But where the rubber hits the road is the cycle part, the wheels.
Yes, we all need to know what we are when we move about on or near the streets.
If we are peds, we belong on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, we belong on the street, walking or hopping, facing traffic.
If we are cycles, however many wheels we may have, from one to very many, we belong on the street, specifically, the right side of that street.
If we are peds, look out for the cycles and dodge them if the driver is texting. Maybe look out for the peds who are texting, as well.
If we are cycles, look out for peds and other cycles, the littles as well as the biggies, texting or non-texting.
If we all do that, no one will ever get crunched or squished.
- Carl Mathis, Charlottetown is a well-known Island musician and conductor