Blogging 101: Being Distracted: Driving vs Cycling

A nod to the WordPress Daily Prompt for Sunday; take a local issue and present both sides.

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There was uproar in the cycling community over a recent news report on CTV Ottawa http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/life-video/video-ctv-ottawa-distracted-cycling/article23377319/ that Ottawa Police are asking the Ontario Government to add to cyclists to the Distracted Driving law currently on the books. The cycling community was almost unanimously against the proposal. Me, not so much so.

As part of Blogging 101 and making a Blogging Prompt personal, I present my take on the two sides, the pro vs the con…I’ll start with objecting to the proposal.

Distracted Cycling NO WAY!

The biggest knock against cyclists is that we want too much. We want to feel safe on the road and want more room to cycle. These are not unusual requests – I think most people get that. Now for the Ottawa Police to come out and put distracted driving on cyclists is absurd, as a cyclist I am always on the lookout for what drivers and other cyclists are doing. I am a defensive cyclist, and proud of it.

The police proposal also suggests that cyclists who have an Ontario Driver’s License be given demerit points when ticketed. WHAT? REALLY? My permit is for driving, not cycling! You want to ticket me and take away my right to cycle? Then start licensing cyclists (not that I think this should actually be done) and force all cyclists to be tested regularly.

Many that have commented on this say that they rarely see it take place.  Most distracted actions come from drivers, not cyclists. Don’t pin the cyclists on the lack of success police have in eliminating distracted driving. Come to the cyclists when you have solved the distracted driver issue. Taking care of that makes riding a bike 100% safer on Ottawa Streets.

Distracted Cycling, It’s about time!

As spring approaches and the snow melts and bike lanes and paths are clear again I fear the cyclist. I fear them as a pedestrian and as a driver. I fear missing a cyclist after doing the shoulder check and then almost driving into one. I ask, ‘where did that person come from?’ Why are they not looking out for me as I look out for them?

I have no problem with cyclists that are distracted being ticketed and having the tickets noted on their driving records. Most cyclists have a driver’s license, even if they don’t own a car. It’s the best form of ID to have and the permit allows a cyclist to rent or car share a vehicle when a bike just won’t do. I will say it here, yes – it should impact their insurance rates as well.

This proposal takes aim the few cyclists that ride distracted. I have seen more than a few cyclists talking on their cell phone while cycling. I also consider a cyclist taking a drink while riding being distracted as well, especially if it is the cause of an incident. I am a cyclist and a driver. I cycle as I drive, with the “leave the phone alone’ pledge front of mind and the phone in a pouch where I can’t touch it when cycling.

Almost all of our streets are two way, as should the distracted driving law should be. If this opens the door to the City or Province licensing cyclists, let’s have that discussion.

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