Letter: Take better care of each other

Tuesday, October 3 2017

Today I was hit by a vehicle while cycling on North Road. Three of us were cycling in single file. When the van was behind us, the driver sounded his horn, long and loud. As he passed me, he hit me with his rear-view mirror and the body of the car. Luckily, I am a good cyclist and was able to keep my balance. I could have been seriously injured, but I suffered no damage at all. The car had California plates. California has a “3-foot” law which prohibits vehicles from passing cyclists unless there is three feet between the car and the cyclist. I don’t know whether the driver was aware of this. It is not the law in British Columbia, but it serves as a good example of the care that is expected of drivers when passing a cyclist. I did not get the name of the gentleman who hit me. To his credit: 1. He immediately stopped and pulled over. (It is a criminal offence not to do this). 2. He asked if I was injured. 3. He told me he had not intended to hit me. 4. He apologized. I accepted his apology. I reported the incident to the police, because by publicizing the event, more people can be made aware of the danger involved. The officer who took the report said that he could issue a ticket for driving without due care and attention, carrying a fine of over $500. I told the officer that I did not wish this to happen. What I do want is for more drivers to be aware that, on this small island, with narrow roads, cyclists are extremely vulnerable. In any collision between a vehicle and bike, the cyclist is going to lose. He or she may lose big time. I don’t want cyclists to suffer injury or death, and I don’t want drivers to have to go through the remorse which follows. In my opinion, 95 per cent of the drivers on this island are excellent and caring, and I thank them for it. Many times today a car or truck could have passed us, but waited. Kudos to you, you know who you are. But the number of good drivers should not be 95 per cent. It should be 100 per cent. Nothing less. Cyclists are not perfect. At times they (including me) break the rules, cycling abreast, not stopping at stop signs, pulling out in front of traffic, etc. We shouldn’t do this. But if we do, it is not a good idea to either blare on the horn or run us over. It is better to sit back, let us become aware of your presence, and if necessary tap the horn. I write this in the hope that it will inspire us to take better care of each other.

~ Dick Hamilton