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Cyclists Need to Remember They Can Kill, Too

08/22/2013 05:21 EDT | Updated 10/22/2013 05:12 EDT

For the third time this week I came within centimetres of being a victim in a traffic incident.

Not by a car or truck.

Nor by a bus or streetcar.

But rather by one of the growing number of irresponsible narcissists who scourge our public roadways and sidewalks with their own version of the rules of the road.

The modern urban cyclist.

My sense is that many HuffPost readers and contributors are avid cyclists themselves. You will understand, then, that this rant is not aimed at the majority of this growing clan that act and behave responsiby.

The key point is that we are all sharing a continually smaller piece of the landscape every day as the gentrification of our largest cities continues unabated, putting an enormous strain on infrastructure including public transport and public spaces.

If you're on two wheels you have to realize that the street is not yours to command, and that safe and courteous road skills are imperative.

Here's what happened to me this week.

Its 9 pm. The sun has set. The traffic light turns green as I am ready to walk South at a major downtown Toronto intersection. My peripheral vision saves me as I see a blur approaching to my left. It is not a car. they are all stopped. Suddenly a bike heading West swerves around me and two other pedestrians before taking a wide loop and then turning North. No front light. No rear light. Not even a helmet. But there is a cellphone in her hand. Why stop at a red light?

I turn and look and yell out "Hey, you almost hit us"

Came the reply "but I didn't, did I?"

The cyclist kept on her merry way.

Two days earlier, a very similar incident. Pedestrians at the same intersection, myself among them. This time waiting to go South to North. The light turns yellow. Then red. A woman beside me starts to cross and I yell out "Wait!" A cyclist goes through at high speed, a car making a left hand turn having to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the cyclist.

But its not just traffic lights where the trouble lies.

Going the wrong way on one-way streets.

Zooming by streetcars with the doors open as passengers get on and off.

And one of the most aggravating of all, cyclists on the sidewalk.

It is against the law to drive a bike of a certain wheel size on the sidewalk. But I understand giving some slack if you're in the suburbs and there's little foot trafic on most sidewalks and the roads are too narrow and the cars going too fast to ensure a comfort zone for those on bicycles.

But driving a bike on a busy downtown sidewalk is just not on.

In 1990 Joan Donaldson, the founding head of CBC Newsworld (now CBC News Network) and a woman that was admired by many in the television community, was struck by a cyclist and fractured her skull. She was in a coma for two years and when she woke up was a paraplegic.

A few years back two pedestrians were killed by cyclists in Toronto, one in the incredibly busy downtown Chinatown area. I'm not making this stuff up.

Yes, drivers should be attentive to cyclists needs as well. And many cyclists have been hit and killed.

But the sheer number of people on two wheels has altered the situation on the public roadways in ways previously unheard of.

Bicycles are good. But sharing the streets with pedestrians and cars is a responsibility as well as a right. Be responsible. That goes for cars too.

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