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Old 05-06-05, 06:52 PM   #1
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On attitudes toward cycling and cyclists ...

I came from a place where it was open season on cyclists - honking, yelling, throwing stuff, and worse; and where I frequently overheard non-cyclists (including my coworkers and people who knew me) making derogatory comments about cycling and cyclists. This attitude of acceptance where I live and work now is a very pleasant surprise.

For example:
A couple months ago I was cycling along on the shoulder (they've got shoulders on many of their roads here - that's a nice change from where I lived before, for a start). I noticed that the traffic coming up behind me was pulling way out around me, giving me lots of room, despite the fact that I was not in their way. I thought there must be a tractor or some sort of slow moving vehicle behind me and they were going around it. After a little while, I looked back to see what this thing was and if it was going to overtake me ... and there was nothing there. The vehicles on this road were giving ME room! I was floored! I'm so used to having vehicles fly by so close they almost brush my arm!!

But I've also noticed that drivers here can be nice to a fault. When I come to an intersection in town, I often have to completely dismount and stand beside my bicycle to show that I want the vehicle, who has the right of way, to go like it is supposed to. Otherwise, the vehicles here will stop and wave me to go when I don't have the right of way!! I'm having a bit of trouble getting used to that. I'm much more used to fighting for my rights and a tiny bit of road on which to ride.

I've also been honked at quite frequently here ... but it is different from where I was before. Before, honking was loud and long right behind me, and usually accompanied by derogatory comments, rude hand gestures, items being lobbed from the vehicle in my direction and/or threatening swerving. Now the honking occurs when the vehicle is most of the way by me, it is quiet and short, and is usually accompanied by a friendly full-fingered wave, and nothing threatening!

What a difference!!
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Old 05-06-05, 07:04 PM   #2
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No chance you could convince them to come to Toronto, eh?

Biking up Yonge Street and then over to Finch can be a nightmare, particularly when fighting with 18-wheelers and city buses on a narrow but busy street. To make it worse, the right-hand lane on Finch is either pothole city, and deep ones at that; or, it's a beach (all the construction trucks are dragging "sand" from their sites and it's collecting on the edges).
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Old 05-06-05, 07:06 PM   #3
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There's really something about the typical American's mentality that makes us so much more prone to violence than Canadians. Don't really know what it is. If you've seen "Bowling for Columbine", you see the contrast between Canada and America. Even in Hawaii, a place that many people mistakenly describe as "laid-back", I am frequently the target of motorist who yell, throw things at me. Most common are overly agressive drivers who pass me within inches going 45+ miles per hour. We could learn a thing or three from our Northern neighbors.
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Old 05-06-05, 08:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Machka
I came from a place where it was open season on cyclists - honking, yelling, throwing stuff, and worse; and where I frequently overheard non-cyclists (including my coworkers and people who knew me) making derogatory comments about cycling and cyclists. This attitude of acceptance where I live and work now is a very pleasant surprise.

For example:
A couple months ago I was cycling along on the shoulder (they've got shoulders on many of their roads here - that's a nice change from where I lived before, for a start). I noticed that the traffic coming up behind me was pulling way out around me, giving me lots of room, despite the fact that I was not in their way. I thought there must be a tractor or some sort of slow moving vehicle behind me and they were going around it. After a little while, I looked back to see what this thing was and if it was going to overtake me ... and there was nothing there. The vehicles on this road were giving ME room! I was floored! I'm so used to having vehicles fly by so close they almost brush my arm!!

But I've also noticed that drivers here can be nice to a fault. When I come to an intersection in town, I often have to completely dismount and stand beside my bicycle to show that I want the vehicle, who has the right of way, to go like it is supposed to. Otherwise, the vehicles here will stop and wave me to go when I don't have the right of way!! I'm having a bit of trouble getting used to that. I'm much more used to fighting for my rights and a tiny bit of road on which to ride.

I've also been honked at quite frequently here ... but it is different from where I was before. Before, honking was loud and long right behind me, and usually accompanied by derogatory comments, rude hand gestures, items being lobbed from the vehicle in my direction and/or threatening swerving. Now the honking occurs when the vehicle is most of the way by me, it is quiet and short, and is usually accompanied by a friendly full-fingered wave, and nothing threatening!

What a difference!!

Haha, hooray for unnecessary Canadian politeness. People up here always give cyclists huge berths, and it's easy for me to understand this, but what's ridiculously hard to understand is how people further south can be jerks to cyclist for no apparent reason.

And stay out of downtown Toronto with your bike. No sense looking for trouble
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Old 05-06-05, 08:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Machka
Before, honking was loud and long right behind me ... Now the honking occurs when the vehicle is most of the way by me, it is quiet and short
Are you suggesting that the car horns where you live now are actually not as loud as the ones where you used to live?
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Old 05-06-05, 08:41 PM   #6
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If you've seen "Bowling for Columbine", you see the contrast between Canada and America.
Puh-leeze. Michael Moore does not speak for America.
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Old 05-06-05, 09:15 PM   #7
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Puh-leeze. Michael Moore does not speak for America.
True Michael Moore does not speak for America.( just us in Blue America) .. none the less when ever we bike in Victoria B.C.(quite often) the drivers stop at intersections, stop at trail crossings, stop where the law requires, and allow us, the bicyclists to go. This isn't just downtown in the touristy Inner Harbour , this is everywhere. By contrast I can guarantee that I'll get honked and yelled at at least once, (per trip) while cycling in Seattle, USA.
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Old 05-06-05, 09:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by swifferman
Haha, hooray for unnecessary Canadian politeness. People up here always give cyclists huge berths, and it's easy for me to understand this, but what's ridiculously hard to understand is how people further south can be jerks to cyclist for no apparent reason.

And stay out of downtown Toronto with your bike. No sense looking for trouble ///
I work and sometimes race in downtown TO only probs are the guns and crack heads
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Old 05-06-05, 10:42 PM   #9
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Reading your post I thought that maybe you had recently moved to Iowa.
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Old 05-07-05, 08:10 AM   #10
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ya know its kind of funny. Here I am in Texas
land of rednecks, pickups, cowboys etc. and I have yet
to be harrassed while out riding. Sure there are the
occaissional buttholes who pass too close or cut me
off, but it isn't intentional. I've never had anything
thrown at me and the only comment ever yelled
was "nice butt" by a blind chick.

Marty
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Old 05-07-05, 08:34 AM   #11
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North American (including Canucks) drivers can be funny about stop signs, and I regularly experience the same scenario Machka is talking about, where they'll wave you through even when they have right of way.

I remember a Danish friend of mine at the university who was perplexed about not being able to just slow down in his car and run stop signs that were blatantly devoid of other traffic or pedestrians.

He said to me, "I don't understand American stop signs. It's like one of those cowboy & Indian movies, where they have to put their ear to the ground to see if anyone is coming!"
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Old 05-07-05, 08:43 AM   #12
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I ride both city and rural roads here in Cincinnati and have yet to be harrassed. Had a couple of close calls, but nothing out of spite.
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Old 05-07-05, 09:24 AM   #13
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Amen Brother! M.M.'s name makes me want to loose last nights pizza.
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Old 05-07-05, 10:00 AM   #14
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Hmm...

I understand that all of the world's problems can be traced to violent and disturbed America but here in South Florida, I am not being harrassed or assaulted or intimidated or threatened while cycling.
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Old 05-07-05, 10:43 AM   #15
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But I've also noticed that drivers here can be nice to a fault. When I come to an intersection in town, I often have to completely dismount and stand beside my bicycle to show that I want the vehicle, who has the right of way, to go like it is supposed to. Otherwise, the vehicles here will stop and wave me to go when I don't have the right of way!! I'm having a bit of trouble getting used to that. I'm much more used to fighting for my rights and a tiny bit of road on which to ride.
I get that here on a certain stretch of road. I don't think it's because the people are being nice, but rather because they're so accustomed to bad cyclists blowing stop signs. It's a very popular road to ride around here and I often see terrible behavior from the other riders which seems to give the drivers here the impression that all of us run stop signs, red lights, and the like. I have to wave people across the road when they clearly have the right of way.
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Old 05-07-05, 10:59 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Marge
True Michael Moore does not speak for America.( just us in Blue America) .. none the less when ever we bike in Victoria B.C.(quite often) the drivers stop at intersections, stop at trail crossings, stop where the law requires, and allow us, the bicyclists to go. This isn't just downtown in the touristy Inner Harbour , this is everywhere. By contrast I can guarantee that I'll get honked and yelled at at least once, (per trip) while cycling in Seattle, USA.
No doubt. I didn't mean to denigrate Canadian politeness at all. (Just didn't want to miss an opportunity to slam Michael Moore.) I've had nothing but pleasant encounters north of the border -- I've been to P.E.I., Vancouver, Halifax, Toronto, St. John, N.B., Fredericton, N.B., Moncton, N.B., and northern Ontario, and it's all good. I've never had the pleasure of cycling up north except a half-hour ride along the Saint John river in Fredericton on a rental bike.
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Old 05-07-05, 09:09 PM   #17
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I think every place has its share of good and bad motorists, but I think the difference is that the US is much more of a car culture, with huge sprawling cities where no one walks, let alone ride bikes. ALso, the US is also a culture where food and obesity seem to be the way of life, so small wonder that cyclists are seen as weird. Even Lance was thought of as weird by his classmates for riding his bike to school. We have that in canada as well, but to a somewhat smaller degree. Our cities are different,although Toronto is huge and sprawling. As for riding on Finch, you have to be NUTS! That would be like riding on Highway 20 or Sherbrooke St at rush hour.
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Old 05-08-05, 01:53 AM   #18
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I used to live in Atlanta and gave up trying to ride a bike around there. Not only was it not worth the risks of being ran over by soccer mom driving huge ass SUV while talking on cell phone or by pretentious self-impotant BMW driver while talking on cell phone, but I would get honked at, yelled at and even had an apple thrown at me. Good thing that apple didn't hit too as it looked like the guy whipped it pretty hard while driving about 50 miles an hour past me! That would have really hurt. To quote Chuck Heston in Planet Of The Apes ... "It's a mad house ... A MAD HOUSE!"

Moved to Indianapolis a couple years ago and it's completely different. People here are much more considerate and polite. Not just with cyclists, but with every day things, such as opening a door for someone or with merging lanes of traffic (yes I do drive a car). In Atlanta people were always trying to cut in front of each other. Here they politely take turns.

Night and day.
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Old 05-08-05, 04:18 AM   #19
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As for riding on Finch, you have to be NUTS! That would be like riding on Highway 20 or Sherbrooke St at rush hour.
I sorta have no choice since I'm trying to get to York. That said, it isn't that bad even during rush hour (although rush hour it becomes somewhat of a parking lot). While the 18-wheeler oil trucks are a little intimidating the drivers are quite nice and do leave me a lot of room. I also go up early in the morning (leaving at 5:45am latest to make it for an 8am class I teach) so there's less traffic. And I leave around noonish..

In fact, I'm gonna go for a ride up this morning...

Highway 20 or Sherbrooke? Montreal? Anything in Montreal is nuts! That said, I have taken a small portion of Highway 20 to get into the Island and start off towards Pierrefonds (where I have relatives) as part of a Toronto-Montreal tour.
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Old 05-08-05, 05:26 AM   #20
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Having lived and commuted by car and bike in downtown Toronto for 25 years, I can say that, for the most part, downtown drivers are generally aware and considerate of cyclists. There's so many of us, particularly from May-October, they have no choice. They're not perfect and the conditions aren't perfect, but they're not bad either. I've never encountered guns or crack-heads, as Steeker remarked, nor would I agree with Swifferman that you should avoid downtown Toronto: it is far better than North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough for cycling (imo). You need to be experienced somewhat to drive on the major routes downtown, but there are plenty of secondary routes that are less-congested and less dangerous (Harbord, Davenport, Sherbourne, etc) and may have nike lanes to make things easier. A different attitude seems to exist beyond the downtown borders, however.

And, as for motorists: I've driven through many American states and will state unequivocably that highway drivers there are far superior to highway drivers here. I don't know why, but they are, and it was a pleasure to drive through Ohio, New York State, Pennsylvannia, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, etc compared to the 401.
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Old 05-08-05, 12:44 PM   #21
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OMG, highway 20 is suicide! I'd be in fear for my life.

Not all of montreal is nuts- just the intersections, lol. They have all these great bike paths, but they often intersect with roads, and some of these intersections are terrifying. Four-way intersections with only stop signs and impatient montreal drivers. However, a couple of them have been redesigned, more to accomodate the drivers, but it also benefits cyclists.

IT's funny that atlanta is like that. You'd think in a warm climate it would be bike friendly,but often it seems like it's just the opposite.
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Old 05-08-05, 01:32 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by MsMittens
No chance you could convince them to come to Toronto, eh?

Biking up Yonge Street and then over to Finch can be a nightmare, particularly when fighting with 18-wheelers and city buses on a narrow but busy street. To make it worse, the right-hand lane on Finch is either pothole city, and deep ones at that; or, it's a beach (all the construction trucks are dragging "sand" from their sites and it's collecting on the edges).
Yonge st. is fine, it's just freaking loud. More often than not it's clogged during the summer making for some very slow car traffic but incredibly fun fast biking.

Finch is honestly the worst road i've biked on around here. Hands down.
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Old 05-08-05, 01:37 PM   #23
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Finch is honestly the worst road i've biked on around here. Hands down.
As far as road quality is concerned, yes. It desperately needs to be repaved in many sections. They repaved Danforth near where it meets Kingston Road (just past Vic Park I believe) and it's nice and smooth to ride on (went on there yesterday). The one thing about cycling on Finch and Yonge is that I get used to loud noises and lots of traffic, which is helpful, I find, when doing tours. Seems more relaxing then because I'm already used to it and don't let it get to me.
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Old 05-08-05, 08:55 PM   #24
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Let me just add that where I live before AND where I live now are both in Canada.

It's just that where I lived before, everything and everyone is very openly, anti-cyclist. It's just nice to live in an area that doesn't seem to mind the fact that cyclists exist.
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Old 05-09-05, 08:11 PM   #25
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Let me just add that where I live before AND where I live now are both in Canada.

It's just that where I lived before, everything and everyone is very openly, anti-cyclist. It's just nice to live in an area that doesn't seem to mind the fact that cyclists exist.
Did you move from a city to a urban or suburban area? I find that is very different just about everywhere.
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