Skip to content

Letter: Cyclists have the right to be safe, but safety isn't a given

Cycling in an urban environment is fraught with danger, this letter writer says
A cyclists enters the Main Street and Lynn Avenue intersection in North Vancouver, one of the most dangerous on the North Shore for cyclists. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

Dear editor:

As a lifelong cyclist, who commuted to work for decades, I share some of the concerns Peter Barker expressed in a recent letter to the editor.

One of the first things I learned about cycling, way back when, is that it is inherently dangerous in its own right. Add traffic to the mix, be it vehicular or pedestrian, and it becomes even more dangerous. Today, many years later, it is far worse than when I learned!

As Peter said in his letter, “competency and street smarts” are essential skills to develop. This takes time and experience. But, even then, there are no guarantees that you won’t have an accident.

Accidents, as I well know, happen. I have had my fair share of them, along with countless close calls. Most cyclists, sadly, have had similar experiences. We have a right to expect to be safe. But the reality is, right or not, we are not safe.

Dedicated bike lanes help and are necessary. North Shore municipalities have done a good job, by and large, and I expect they will continue adding more and more dedicated bike lanes as the years go by. They may not be doing so at a rate some people would like. This said, no matter how many dedicated bike lanes we may have, they alone will never make us cyclists safe unless they all have protective barriers of some kind.

This is improving, but there will always be areas where we are exposed to danger. We can’t ignore this. Especially with more and more people cycling today than ever before. E-bikes have opened the North Shore up to cyclists of varying experience and competence.

I personally love this, and encourage people to buy an e-bike and get out there. But I see situations and close calls daily that are not always the cause of cars or trucks. They are caused by the inexperience of new cyclists.

This worries me as cycling in an urban environment is fraught with danger. This is why I am writing to you and why I feel a need to pass along some words of advice to new cyclists: Cycle safely. Never assume anything. Always be aware and be prepared – our lives are on the line out there!

Yes, we should expect to be safe. Unfortunately, the reality is that this is not a given. So think safe, be safe, be aware of your surroundings, and lastly, follow the rules of the road. We are all vehicles sharing the same roads, and we all want to get home safely.

Rick Harrison
Central Lonsdale, North Vancouver

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.