I don’t ride like I do is this video very often any more, it’s illegal, it’s dangerous for other road users, it’s bad for the discussion Toronto is currently having about sustainable transportation, it’s bad for advocacy towards more bicycle infrastructure — and it’s bad for my health.
Towards a common sense discussion about bicycle transportation, I ride according all the traffic laws (except streets posted One Way to calm traffic, and 4-way stop signs along quiet streets I think should be cycle-ways – should be posted ‘Yield to Bicycles’).
I uploaded this because it is important that we have a discussion about how messengers are forced to ride in the core doing their jobs – it is a fact of life – and I think the discussion should begin with a better understanding of the much vilified, underpaid, over-worked, unrepresented, professional Bicycle Messenger – who’s working conditions are the most dangerous of any job in this economy.
This is how Messengers ride for example, as the end of the day approaches and they need to get packages off before receptionists leave for home at 5pm. At this time of day in the Core, traffic is extremely heavy and frantic – or grid locked. So Kamikaze riding usually includes massive numbers of pedestrians jay walking while the cyclist races between lanes of stopped cars, personally risking door prize injuries – and risking the safety of others (usually pedestrians) – while going 25 kph.
Some riders love this style of riding – they are addicted to it. It’s a Master of the Universe feeling doing this – and in heavy traffic, well, you can imagine the adrenaline rush.
On the ride in this video I had to get from Woodbine and Danforth to Carlaw and Queen in 10 minutes because I promised someone I would be at a free Bike Clinic on time (especially this week because we were short mechanics). So I reverted to a ‘before time’ style of riding to do it – Kamikaze Courier. While I was at it, I thought I’d show you a Messenger’s ‘POV’.
In this video I never stop – I slow at a couple of major intersections – but I never stop. When a courier has packages on that are time sensitive, this is how they get them there on time.
Do not try this at home. I had one full year under by belt as a messenger before I rode like this – and I know this particular route like the back of my hand.
Ride Time: 14:35
Total Distance: 5.09 km
Average Speed: 20.94 kph
I could have taken 2 minutes off the run with more Kamikaze riding on this route. I stopped riding Kamikaze at the top of Jones Av and took a leisurely pace south off Gerrard down Galt to Dagmar, to Dundas and down to Queen via Boston Av.
But I was still less than 5 minutes late for the start of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre Bike Clinic.
South Riverdale Community Health Centre Bike Clinic is every Thursday (year ’round) from 1pm until 3pm – at 955 Queen Street East – through the front doors, on your right in the main lobby.
On Monday I recorded a ride along the Dundas Bike Lanes from Leslieville to Lockwood Av near Woodbine, with my Samsung ES25 Digital Camera.
Didn’t think much of it while it was happening – I messengered for three years – this stuff happens all the time in the core … but in Leslieville, and in the Beaches, this stuff happens at a far lower frequency …
But not today.
Here it is, edited from a 9 minute ride down to 60 consecutive seconds of Cyclist’s Hell.
On another Video Bicycle Ride that I posted today, I sum up this ride,
“..and look’n back on it – there was no indication then – but look’n back on it, I was going too fast. And I didn’t pick up on that cue until after the 5th incident. That’s how you get killed. “
Live and learn.
I should note – that these video’s are about educating cyclists through the benefit of my virtual experiences – but they are also for other road users, so they have the benefit of seeing the experience of a cyclist, from the cyclist’s point of view.
So for example, in incident 1 – as a automobile driver, when you poke the nose of your car out into the bike lane, AND, don’t ever come to a complete stop – you force the cyclist to make a choice. In incident 1 I never saw the driver come to a stop, so I had to choose: change lanes or stop. If a car was coming up on my left I’d be down to one choice, stop.
I might have been able to to that before hitting the ‘creeping noser’. If not, we would have then had a pleasant conversation about replacing my bike; and you later, with your insurance agent about replacing your front left quarter panel, and increasing your insurance rate.
This is the case of the pedestrian who walks out onto the Crosswalk, lights flashing – but the view of the Crosswalk is partially obstructed by a car parked too close to the Crosswalk.
In this case the Pedestrian is acting in a completely correct manner. I should have seen the lights and slowed. I did not so that set up the following: neither I or the car in front of me sees the flashing lights; I don’t get the benefit of seeing the car in front brake (because he goes straight through at speed) and, I don’t see the pedestrian until it to late for braking. So I look behind to my lsft and change lanes immediately. If a car was coming on my left my ‘bail out’ was towards the curb – behind the pedestrian – (hopefully there are no other pedestrians there).
In incident 3, making a three point turn on a major thoroughfare, just past a busy intersection with the light green on the street your using – that is a dangerous move and an inconvenience for all road users.
To the mini-van driver just past Coxwell who made the 3-point turn – thanks for stopping on the right side after your turn – and I noticed (while I was editing the video), you also signaled right turn at the end - indicating you were staying put over there – thank you – that showed you were aware of everything that was going on around you.
Except for the timing of the 3-point turn, excellent driving.
In incident 4 – same as incident 1 – the car coming out of the allyway nosing into the Bike Lane, AND not coming to a complete stop – same as above. With a car coming from behind – my ‘bail out’ was into your left front quarter panel.
In this short clip it’s noon rush hour, about half past 12 – just west of the Beaches, Toronto – 07 March 2012.
I’m cycling westbound on Queen Street just east of Woodbine – approaching Elmer Av. A Car driver over takes me, cuts me off, brakes, and then makes a right hand turn at speed, up Elmer.
If I had not been breaking to also take the same corner, I likely would have had to bail into the curb. If a pedestrian had stepped out to cross Elmer -(with right of way) this driver would have had a hard time avoiding hitting them – and I would have ended up on his roof.
This is a perfect example of a very common dangerous maneuver - having to get in front of the ‘perception’ that the cyclist is slowing you down.
Yes – ‘Perception’ – this road-rage-causing competitive driving is a neurosis. His identity is based in this by-the-seat-of-your-pants-driving – with no thought given (until the unthinkable happens) to the consequences if this ‘Master of the Universe’ strategy fails.
If he had slowed and let me lead in my lane he would have parked his car maybe 5 seconds later than he did.
I created the video using a Samsung ES25 Digital Camera in Video Mode strapped to my head with a sweat band – and edited it with the YouTube Video Editor (http://www.youtube.com/editor)
Convenience parking in Bike Lanes, just past busy intersections, is extremely dangerous for cyclists.
This short clip of me cycling the Dundas Bike Lanes at Coxwell on 05March2012, shows pretty well the experience of the cyclist when dealing with a parked van in the bike lane just past a busy intersection.
I’m a veteran cyclist – and I bike this route regularly – so I wasn’t surprised to see a car parked in this dangerous situation. As you can see in the video, I see it half a block before I get to the intersection – so I have time to decide what I’m going to do. (I decide to make a movie
What to Do?
The best thing to do in this situation – if your lucky enough to notice it soon enough – is to change lanes well before the intersection, and take the middle of the centre lane through the intersection. If cars start honking at you use your left hand to signal a stop sign and continue calmly. Once they see the parked car in the bike lane they’ll wish they hadn’t done that.
Convenience Stopper / Parker:
For automobile drivers – if you can, if it’s not too far to walk for you, could you please pull your car as far up as you can from the corner – it gives unsuspecting cyclists time to change lanes or stop before they hit your car – or die in a collision.
For the Toronto Police Services Board – could you please see to it that Officers enforce the Bike Lane no parking laws?
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I manage two blogs here at BikingToronto: "@Blog_FreeWheel" and the "Toronto/GTA Bicycle Route Mapping Wiki". The Blog and the Wiki are two sides of a coin - the blog to discuss bicycle routes and the politics of bicycle routes - and the Mapping Wiki to publish bike route maps contributors and I have discovered to help city planners, cycling advocates and road users to choose and advocate for, safe and efficient cycling routes on Toronto's busy and dangerous car-centric infrastructure.