Mrs. Dr's ride

The parts finally came in last week and it was time to put Mrs. Dr's bike together. Funny how building bikes always takes longer than expected. Started putting it together on Thursday at the shop and finished on Friday at 9:30 (they kicked me out on Thursday otherwise I would have been there till midnight working on it). Too bad it took so long cause it looks like I missed a great race on Friday night, but I really wanted to her bike done before she gets home today (Laura has been gone for 5 weeks and this is her welcome home present).

Pretty excited about the bike and I believe Laura will be as well. It comes in at 22lbs the way you see it here, which is not bad for a city/utility bike. Many thanks to Tomek for building the wheels and the gifting me some brakes, the guys in the shop for advice and not laughing (too much) at my silly mistakes, and Matt for the handlebars.


am i cold hearted?

been a long time since i last updated the blog - in fact, i drifted all the way below boredom manifestation, so it is time for another post.

on saturday i was filling up the car with gas before i headed out to bur oak to map the trails with vern from the OCC. as i was filling up with gas, i heard a loud crash coming from the street behind me. i looked over my shoulder to see a bike down on the street in front of a car, the cyclist was sitting on the pavement looking rather stunned. she quickly got up as the driver of the vehicle ran out to see if she was alright. people gathered to offer their assistance so there was no need for me to go over to help. at first i was a little shocked and my sympathy went to the cyclist. i've come very close to this scenario several times and know how disconcerting this is. but then i began to change my mind on what had just happened - you see, the problem was that she was riding her bike on the sidewalk and i soon felt she was the author of her own misfortune. statistics have shown that sidewalks are often less safe than roads for cyclists, this appeared to bear that conclusion. this cyclist was going against the flow of traffic because she was riding on the sidewalk on the south side of Portage Ave traveling west, like a salmon swimming upstream; drivers turning onto Portage would be looking to their left for traffic and not their right. this is not to say the motorist is without fault, it is just the cyclist put herself in a very risky position by riding on the sidewalk. i was glad she was alright, i just think she put herself into a very vulnerable position when she thought she was being safe by riding on the sidewalk.

too many cyclists do not ride with enough precaution and are immediately outraged when they have close calls or encounters with vehicles, but how many times is their own fault?

yesterday's free press had the following letter to the editor, the editorial cartoon, and the front page article on the local section of yesterday's free press - somewhat timely considering what i witnessed on the weekend.

letter to the editor:

Get jerks off sidewalks

E. Rosenberg is right (Put bells on bikes, June 4). I was the other pedestrian who shared his close call while walking on Wellington Crescent last Sunday. Shortly after, I met head-on with a sidewalk cyclist running a large dog on a leash, followed by a caravan of four adults, one trundling a babe in box arrangement at the rear.

How safe is that?

As I pointed out in an article printed in the Winnipeg Free Press in August 2006, cycling on sidewalks is illegal. The provincial Highway Act states, only bicycles with a wheel circumference no greater than 410 mms are allowed on Winnipeg sidewalks. This law is not respected or enforced. Pedestrians are increasingly at risk.

Pedestrian is defined in the Act as "a person afoot or a person in a wheelchair or a child's carriage or physically handicapped person operating a motorized mobility aid." Yes and some of those can slow down too.

The situation is getting worse. Freewheeling on the sidewalk is leading more and more to freewheeling on crosswalks. Try crossing Osborne and River; on second thought, don't. The "blue-haired brigade," which includes me, has a tough enough time beetling across before the lights change without cyclists compounding the challenge.

Why not license bicycles? Plate numbers included. Open cyclists to inspection by police for functioning equipment such as front and rear lights and brakes, a warning device, knowledge of road rules and adherence to speed limits.

Dedicated cyclists, who are the majority, would gain from this elevated profile. It would increase public respect for them, emphasize their legal right to safe passage on the road and enhance their campaign for more dedicated cycle paths. Let's work together to get the jerks off the sidewalks.

Jean Palmer


article on city councilors cycling to work