I commute to downtown Vancouver from west Richmond by bicycle. My usual route is via the CanadaLine bike bridge, then onto Cambie Street heading over the Cambie bridge before ending up at Howe & Cordova. Just under 20 km or 12.5 miles.
This morning I decided to take the Arthur Laing bridge, to Cypress, then Burrard Bridge before showing solidarity for the Hornby separated bike lane. I am a sprint-when-the-light-turns-green sort of rider. Wearing a high visibility fluorescent yellow long sleeved top with cycling specific lycra long pants, I am poetry in motion. Man and machine are one.
At the green light at Pacific and Hornby I start off strong and I'm flying north along the bike lane. Using my bell, I politely warn a pair of pedestrians who suspiciously appear they might be wandering onto the bike lane just before Davie. I'm making good time just by the Vancouver Art Gallery when a man in a dark navy blue pin striped suit walks off the sidewalk without looking and right onto the bike lane as I approach. The bike lane elevates at this section to be level with the sidewalk and he might have thought that was an engineered pedestrian crossing.
As I swerved around him, I said in a loud voice, "You're on the bike lane sir!"
"Sorry," he replied.
With my educational deed done for the day, I stopped at the red light at Georgia and Hornby careful to place my wheel just behind the white line in order not to impede the mass of pedestrians heading to work. Pedestrians, cars and bicycles. Can we all get along? Refrains of "kum bayah" echo in my mind and I feel the universe smiling.
The light turns green so I instinctively launch my feet into the Zefal toe-cupped pedals to push my 74 gear inch singlespeed into motion to head north. Suddenly my peripheral vision catches sight of a car from Hornby entering the intersection to make a right turn onto Georgia. What!? How dare --
Reacting to the threat of collision, I looked once more at the traffic light. It was green for cars going straight and for cars making a right turn. The smaller bicycle lane control light was showing a steady red! My right hand reached for my front brake lever knowing that the front brakes control 70% of stopping force and grabbed it hard. The front wheel comes to a dead stop. I feel the rear of the bike lighten as it raises in the air. At the same time, my right foot pivots off the pedal and plants on the ground. The rear of the bike descends and careens to my left with my left foot still planted on the pedal. Recovering from the near face-planting endo, I stood up - still straddling the bike and wheeled the bike backwards and said, "Sorry."
The car made the turn without further incident.
As I arrived at work, I made a mental note to try Burrard Street with its painted bike lane to Cordova. For the speed and style of cycling I prefer, the separated bike lane may not be my best choice unless I'm driving Miss Daisy.