It is quite an eye-opening experience to drive downtown in Toronto.
Scary, actually. To both drivers and cyclists alike.
We have not been to the downtown Chinatown for a long while. The other day, have to attend a banquet, we drove downtown. On Spadina, we were surprised and intimidated by the added narrow bicycle lane, to the right of us, next to the curb. With the streetcar lane on the left and the bicycle lane on the right, plus the overflow of pedestrians, we have to drive and proceed with extra caution.
A cyclist could suddenly appear on your passenger-side window. What to do? Hold on to the steering wheel tight, with palm sweating, trying to keep the car to go straight, and to inch forward slowly, hoping not to sway any closer to the cyclist. Decision, decision. Should I drive faster and overtake the cyclist, or just go slowly to follow and keep an eye on him? May be I should just change to the outside lane to avoid him completely? Think, quickly, and keep driving.
It was worse when I have to make a right turn, onto a side street. I have to signal, cross over the bicycle lane and got into the right turning lane. I kept looking at the rear mirror, kept looking over my shoulder, checking my blind spot. It was dark outside; I could not see any cyclist behind me, but still not a hundred percent sure. May be he was wearing dark clothing. I really not want to hit someone. But should I turn now? I hesitated for a moment, slowing down. Decision, decision. Cars behind me began to horn. Oh, well, made the plunge and took my chance, I finally cross-over the bicycle lane. Thank goodness, no crushing sound. Relax now.
For a cyclist, it is just as dangerous.
The bicycle lane was quite narrow, to begin with. It’s difficult to stay within the marked lane. With cars zooming by, next to you, almost shoulder to shoulder (or shoulder to car-doors, to be exact), and with an occasional pedestrian suddenly stepped onto the road, it was stressful and difficult to keep cycling in a straight line. When cars, and especially large trucks, making a right turn, the drivers were concentrating on turning their steering wheel and the angle of turning; they did not usually see you there. Last week, a young mother was killed under the wheels of a truck just like that.
Cycling is a mean of transportation, from Point A to Point B. It is convenient, eco-friendly (no pollution) and affordable. It should be encouraged and promoted. But the road condition now is screaming of danger, a road kill, to everyone on the road, cyclists and drivers alike.
We should take action now to improve our roads cycling safety condition, immediately, otherwise accidents will keep on happening, over and over again, everyday.