Should Cyclists Be Licensed?

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Once again the debate is raging in Vancouver over the proposed bicycle lane expansion on Hornby Street. The Vancouver Sun, the Georgia Straight, Jeff Lee (of Civic Lee Speaking) are on fire with comments.

I am all for expanding the bike lane concept, but it has to work for drivers and pedestrians. It has to be safe and efficient for all.

As interesting as the debate is, there is one major consideration that has barely been touched upon. That is the “rules of the road”. Legally, a cyclist must obey the rules of the road. In this case, the rules are governed by British Columbia’s Motor Vehicle Act. The Act says that cyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers of vehicles.

So can someone clarify for me how the bike lanes work? As a driver, you can’t turn right at many intersections flanked by a bicycle lane. Do cyclists get to run the red? Or if they have to stop, why not allow cars to turn with a right turn arrow; then allow the bikes to cross. Or implement a system as Montreal uses – where all the pedestrians go in all directions – let the bike lanes go with them, and then the cars. Makes sense to me. Voila – right turns allowed!

How about making a left-turn from a bike lane? How does that work? If you follow the Motor Vehicle Act cyclists need to make a left turn similar to how a pedestrian would walk in a 90 ° angle. So when do the rules of the road apply and when are they different?

With the increase in bike lanes and utilization, why don’t people need to have a bike license and some basic training? Maybe that would cut down on cyclists who act like a car driver sometimes, a cyclist at other times and a pedestrian when the need arises. I am talking about the people who pedal full throttle on the sidewalk (going the wrong way to the one way traffic) and enter the crosswalk going 30 kilometers an hour and expect a driver to be able to stop in time. And then flip the driver the bird! Cycling against the traffic is illegal as is cycling in a crosswalk. How many cyclists do I encounter every day who never use a hand signal? I can go on and on, but the point is, in my view, very few cyclists know or choose not to follow the rules of the road. If cyclists want to use the road and be respected on the road, then a license should be required to prove they know the rules.

Four wheels or two wheels? It really doesn’t matter which one you support because the history of the current city council is that the Hornby bike lane will forge ahead. The Dunsmuir trial period is barely half over and they are already holding public meetings and circulating surveys on the next stage of the project. So let’s all work together so we can walk, drive and bike together in green harmony. One-way to achieve this is through education and a great resource for both cyclists and drivers can be found at: http://www.bikesense.bc.ca/bikesense-manual

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