Friday, 11 September 2015

It's Not Just Bikes and Cars

I wish I could say that I was a model citizen when it comes to driving. When I turned 16 and got my 365 my Dad took me to a yet-to-be-built subdivision and said "okay, drive". So I did, and he taught me to do it safely. But I was not a perfect driver. A while back my at my women's group, our meeting opener was "what is your worst driving habit". I don't remember too many of them except for one friend who admitted to driving while pulling out her grey hairs (which she has stopped doing for fear of having no hair left). I admitted to eating my breakfast (bowl of oatmeal or granola) in the car on the way to work. I am pretty sure that at that meeting I said I would stop, but I didn't. There were no oatmeal driving incidents, but that doesn't mean there could not have been. I am pretty sure eating breakfast would lead to a distracted driving charge.

Theo and I have heard from many people who have told us that they have changed how they drive. Giving a wide berth to cyclists and slowing down when it is not safe to pass. Even a self-proclaimed "redneck driving" friend of ours says he has changed how he drives around cyclists. This is Huron County folks, that is big. But it is not big enough, because even people who do know my story have not changed or "make exceptions".

Here is an example. A couple of weeks ago Theo arrived to visit me one evening and he was seething. Now this is a man who is tough to ruffle, so this, of course was quite shocking. He described a distracted driver who was on the phone behind him, driving way too close for comfort. Those of you who live in the area will know that Hwy #4 is stop-and-go with lots of bridge construction. At each bridge there is a stoplight to allow for one-way traffic over the bridge. Theo took a red-light opportunity to get out of his car and go talk to this lady who was behind him. She made many excuses for herself even after he explained that he was on his way to see his wife who was paralyzed after being hit by a car. While he was walking away, she said she knew my story, and that she was sorry. After the bridge she pulled off the road, we assume to finish her conversation and we hope, to think about her driving decisions.

Over the past couple of years at Madill we have been inundated with the idea that we choose our behaviour. And the same applies here. Choice. Make a decision to drive with care, care for the passengers in your car, the people who are taking advantage of the five months of good riding conditions the people whose life requires a horse for transportation. For me, Share the road is not just about bikes vs cars. I know I am up on my soap box here. I originally said this in my interview on Ontario Morning but I think it needs to be said again. And again. Remember that Vidal Sassoon commercial? I'll tell two friends, and you tell two friends, and so on, and so on...We need to share the road with everyone. Not just bikes, but with tractors, pedestrians, horse and buggies, and each other.

So when the province introduced new bike safety laws I thought they were good, a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. Because it's not just bikes and cars.


  1. I think it's so much about being in the present moment, and paying attention. Life is so busy - there have been many times when driving a regular route that I've found myself at my destination but have been so wrapped up in multitasking thoughts that the drive was almost in autopilot. When I really think about that, it's scary!! Checking your blog daily and thinking of you all the time, Julie. Hugs from the Stevenson's

  2. We too have been talking a lot lately about safety on the roads. I find it a big challenge in Sharing the Road in the difference in speed of all traffic. The other day we passed a horse and buggy as they were driving on the gravel shoulder of the road. With oncoming traffic I could not make a wide pass around it, but did not slow down either to do this once the oncoming car had passed. As sad as it is to see where you are right now, it has made our family talk a lot more about safety on the roads. Sending you lots of love as you tackle all your challenges with great perseverance. The Vandervlies family.

  3. Your voice is being heard. Don't get off that soapbox. You are changing perceptions, attitudes and habits...thank you.

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