Do you want to hear a funny story? A couple of months ago, I wrote an op-ed for the Ottawa Citizen arguing that the city is not doing enough to keep cyclists safe. It was planned out a few days in advance to be a part of the new re-branded paper. As the publication day approached, a bit of irony almost befell me. I was riding home along Prince of Wales, in the bike lane. Traffic was pretty busy, and often that means that drivers will pull their cars into the bike lane in order to… I don’t… be assholes, or something. So whenever it’s busy, I make sure to go a bit slower and keep my hands ready for braking.
And, wouldn’t you know it, someone pulled into the bike lane. They weren’t going to go anywhere, I guess they just wanted to get a better look at all the bumpers ahead of them. I didn’t get hit, but I thought how I’d have the “best” bio ever on an op-ed about cycling safety:
Jonathan McLeod was an Ottawa-based writer who killed by a driver.
It would have been a poignant, if unwanted, end to the op-ed.
Anyway, yesterday Prince of Wales was pretty busy again. No one actually drove into me, but a number of people where veering onto the magical painted line that somehow gives cyclists super protection for two-tonne death machines. As I turned the corner, I saw a car in the bike lane… a cop car, lights flashing. It happened around here. You can clearly see the bike lane.
It appears that there was an incident of sorts between a cyclist and a minivan. It didn’t seem like anyone was hurt, thankfully.
I was chatting with a local newspaper editor about it, and he noted that there’d likely be no press release from the cops because no one was hurt, so it likely wouldn’t get much (if any) press. This isn’t really a surprise. Collisions between cars and bikes happen with alarming frequency, but don’t get reported a whole lot.
As I was chatting with the editor, I learned that there was another incident on the evening commute. Along Wellington West, a cyclist was doored in heavy traffic. Here’s a tweet:
— Ottawa Bicycle Lanes (@bikelanes_ca) July 17, 2014
It should be obvious that the man in the LTD Landscaping truck almost killed the cyclist. It should also be clear that he committed a crime. There’s no real grey area here. Dooring is a crime. Here’s the response:
— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) July 18, 2014
Look, I get that the cops can’t be everywhere and police everything, but a man was almost killed. Perhaps the authorities (cops, city councillors, city planners, etc.) should do <i>something</i>, rather than waiting on someone to report this.
Oh, and Wellington West is considered a bike-friendly area. Yeah.