Cycling hazards

Sure it's great to promote cycling but too many obstacles persist for those who try to ride their bike through the streets of Vernon

Soon we will be riding our bikes to work to save the environment, etc.

It seems odd that to get people out, we need to set aside one week in the year for this activity even though it should be second nature to ride a bike in the first place, whether to work or just to enjoy the fresh air.

The only reason I can think is the inherent hazards on the way to work or home. There are roads that have no bike lanes so you have to rely on the person driving to see you over and above the other distractions the driver has to deal with.

There are roads where the bike lanes have their own hazards to contend with.

For instance: riding west on 43rd Avenue from Pleasant Valley Road seems a breeze except for the manhole covers conveniently placed in the middle of the bike lane, as well, they are not flush to the pavement which means riding over them will result in a flat tire or bent rim. You might think you should ride around them. The small problem there is the city uses that road to have dump trucks get to wherever. So you say, ‘Go to the other side of the bike lane.’ But just try to convince the people that park their cars there to come out and move them just for you.

The next problem is Pleasant Valley Road as you approach 46th Avenue heading north. The city put in a wheelchair access to the sidewalk. A good idea except it is extended out past the bike lane to the edge of the travelled portion of the road. Care to guess what happens as you approach while riding beside a car?

If you guessed the car slows down and moves over for you, you happen to be wrong. One person riding will slow down. If there are three or four riders, the chance of one of them careening over the sidewalk increases. When you look at this extension, the first thing one might wonder was why the sidewalk wasn’t made as a ramp on both sides as a safety issue? Ride further along this part of the road and the bike lane vanishes into a six-inch, rutted edge until you get to Silver Star Road.

The next hazard is if you happen to enter the intersection to cross Silver Star Road and the light is green. Count on the light to change to red before you get across the road. When asked how to extend the time, the answer was, it can’t be done as the traffic lights are timed with all of the lights down to 32nd Street and 25th Avenue. What bike rider would be concerned with that when he is just contending with someone blasting their horn because he can’t get across fast enough?

Other hazards to be aware of: Don’t even think of riding anywhere on 32nd Street. Period. Use 27th Street. Just be aware that there are storm sewers that are sunk down so water has a place to go. It wasn’t built to knock the bike rider off his ride, it just seems that way. There are also manhole covers with grates being parallel to the travelled portion of the road, good for the tire salesman. One other caution to keep in mind: transit buses are large! Maybe the observations I have given have a bearing on why people are reluctant to ride to work. The price of gas doesn’t seem to have much to do with it, though.

 

Bob Johnston

Vernon