Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ottawa Citizen Letter: Grrr, Look at my Angry Face!

Read the letter here


Rob Young said...

Well done!

The only thing I strongly disagree on in your letter is the following line:

"Stopping at stop signs is appropriate."

Not stopping at stop signs can be dangerous, and I don't think you give good justification as to why cyclists don't need to stop at stop signs in Gatineau Park. I also feel there is no good reason for a cyclist not to stop at a stop sign. I believe it is good practice and not a rule that exceptions should be made for lightly.


Well done, it's great that you got this published in the citizen!

Matt Surch said...

I'm with you Rob; I did write appropriate, not inappropriate. I think the flow from the previous lines threw you off.

Rob Young said...

Oh! Whoopes, I'm sorry Matt, I had read the exact opposite of what you wrote on that sentence! It has been a long day, sorry about that!

Matt Surch said...

No worries Rob, I've done that too many times to count!

Matt Surch said...

Rodd's colleague, Barry, sent the following comments. He makes a strong case. We evidently need a two-pronged approach to this issue. My response will follow.

While I understand Matt's frustration, it's a little misdirected, in my opinion. As he mentions in passing in his letter, the traffic rules in question stem from the Québec law, which still treats cyclists like annoying kids on annoying toys slowing down the grown-ups in their grown-up cars. Groups like Vélo Québec are part of an advisory roundtable in Québec trying to bring the treatment of cyclists into the 21st century. Their approach is not to have cyclists recognized as "recreational user groups", but rather to give them their rightful place in traffic (which would include riding two abreast, given that cyclists should be able to occupy as much road space as cars).

So, while the road laws in Québec presently suck, the NCC has simply chosen to recognize the jurisdiction of those laws in the park and enforce them. As a Québecer, I applaud that attitude. Most federal institutions spit on any and all provincial jurisdictions, thinking themselves above the law, or as a law unto themselves (you could call it my P.E.T. peeve...). Rather than urging the NCC ignore the law, I'd encourage frustrated cyclists to join the struggle to change the law. They could start with membership in Vélo Québec, which is only $30/year and includes a free subscription to Vélo Mag (you don't have to be a Québec resident to join).

By the way, Matt could take some consolation from the fact that the NCC is only partially applying the Québec law, which states that cyclists are required to use the bike path whenever it is in proximity to the roadway in question. Ie, cyclists should actually not be on the roadway in the park until after the Saint-Raymond overpass...


Matt Surch said...

Barry presents a strong case. I think you and I can easily see how my/our frustration is directed toward the NCC based on their ongoing displays of distain for cyclists. I have to agree that amending the Highway act would help. I don't quite share the blanket peeve about federal bodies poo-pooing provincial laws though; there needs to be wiggle room for special cases. I could not applaud enforcement of the bike path law on principle. That law is actually idiotic. In Montreal the separate bike lanes are very dangerous. And not plowed. Requiring riders to use them is insane.

Matt Surch said...

From Barry:

I hope you understood that my critique was on approach. I'm totally with you on the general treatment of cyclists, both recreational and utility.


Matt Surch said...

Hey Barry,

I do understand your argument's focus. Part of the issue is that the NCC has maintained an antagonistic relationship with cyclists for some time - mountain bikers in particular. We are the other, the punching bag and scapegoat for the Commission and a vocal group of hikers. The NCC's crackdown is another indication of their distain. They can claim high ground however, in claiming they are simply enforcing the highway act in an effort to be respectful of provincial regulation, or something to that effect. I see the NCC as a corrupt organization with a strong profit motive - like other corporations - veiled by a b.s. mandate.

I can't claim to have chosen my approach after weighing options. Shifting focus to amendment of the highway act would sidestep the most vexing issue: the NCC's relationship with the cycling community. The highway act should be amended, but that will not change the NCC's stance. They need a shakedown from at the highest levels.

Anonymous said...

Frustration - mon, trying getting hit... that's frustration.
I've been hit twice.

Once in the gats as some young punk pulled a U turn into me at that place that says no U turns.
I was travelling at a good speed. He was turning at a good speed.
We intersected.
I took the brunt of the vector.
Cost: about 800 bucks.

We went shopping. He refused to pay. I said, lets call the cops then... he paid up. No call made to the cops. He would have gotten his liscence pulled as he had plenty of speeding tickets.
A night of shopping.

Then on Baseline, some idiot turned into me without checking his blind spots.
I was moving. He was turning.
I flew like a bird.
He accused me. He got the ticket.
He ripped the ticket up in front of me while I laid in the hospital bed waiting for an x ray. Cost me some holiday time.
Put in a claim for my bike as he ran over it.
Over 800 dollars in damage.
Insurance depreciated my ride because we are somehow or other pegged in with a "vehicle". Who the f-k did that to us!!! I want to be called a mobile accessory unit. That way we fight for those in wheel chairs etc... So, they can use the roads as well. Two fights in one.
I AM NOT AN AUTOMOBILE!!! I don't smell like one, I don't sound like one, and I don't look like one... thus, I AM NOT ONE!!!
Good grief!
Someone who has never been through the pain!

Anyhow, insurance depreciated my ride like a vehicle. I got 150 bucks. I had to fight and fight and fight to get up to 550 bucks.
Me, stuck with the bills and a scar for life.
Him, out drinking coffee and having a smoke again.

Fair, Fk no. Frustrated, yes...
Till you have to go through it...
It's f-n frustrating the system is.