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Streetcar Door Etiquette

There’s a cool post over on Torontoist about the TTC’s recent efforts to help drivers know that they should be stopping for open streetcar doors. Basically, the TTC is placing big ugly (in my opinion) stickers on the rear windows of streetcars.

Why don’t we do the same thing with streetcars as is done with schoolbuses? When a streetcar is stopping, have flashing lights on the back and a little stop sign swinging out from the door side of the streetcar to make sure cars stop.

If I was a conspiracy-minded guy, I’d almost think there was an anti-cycling club operating in the Toronto “blogosphere” because there are always commenters talking about cyclists like they are the ones who run over and smush people instead of cars. The very first comment on Torontoist about this post is not about the importance of cars stopping when people are boarding or disembarking from streetcars, but about how some cyclists don’t.

While I think that cyclists should stop for people getting on and off of streetcars (it’s just courteous, and I do it, only passing when I’m sure that the way is clear), I do not think that if they do go through a crowd of people getting on a streetcar, that they should be held to the same standard as drivers.

Am I advocating a double-standard? Of course!

If a car drives through a crowd of 20 people getting on a streetcar, you’ll be lucky if you don’t have 20 dead people. At the least, you’ll have quite a few dead and the rest seriously injured. This is even at fairly low speeds, due to a car being a ton of motorized steel.

If a cyclist rides through a crowd of 20 people getting on a streetcar, you may have them hit a couple people, who may get knocked down and bruised. Remember that top speed for a really fast urban cyclist negotiating traffic is BELOW the speed limits of all Toronto roads.

Using the above examples, it’s fairly obvious that a driver acting recklessly causes a lot more death and destruction than a cyclists acting recklessly (when’s the last time you heard of someone dying in a bike collision? Does a day go by that you don’t hear about a automobile fatality?).

As mentioned above, I stop for streetcar doors… and only proceed when it’s safe to do so (which is pretty quickly as my bike can go places cars can’t, and doesn’t pose a danger to anyone).

What do you do around streetcars?

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