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January 28, 2008



I find it offensive that this motorist does not understand that driving a motor-vehicle on our roads is the privilege, and that walking or moving about under our own power, including cycling, is a right.

Motor-vehicles are extremely dangerous devices, and the leading cause for "accidental" death here in Canada and worldwide. The vehicle itself must be registered and licensed, and can be removed from our roads if deemed unsafe. Drivers of these vehicles must also be licensed, and may have their licence revoked for behaviours deemed to be unsafe, like drinking. Because of the carnage which motor-vehicles incur both on and off our roads daily, drivers must share this cost through insurance.

Roads are not just for vehicles. Roads are public spaces made for a variety of uses, passage along them by motor-vehicles just happens to one very common use. Besides the usual passage of vehicles, which includes bicycles, roads may also be used by riders on horseback, carriages being drawn by horses, heavy machinery used in construction, farm equipment, and pedestrians. Roads may also have them all manner of debris which motorists are also under obligation not to collide with. The road surface may be damaged, and the motorist is also responsible not to be in a collision because of it.

Our motorist education system is obviously failing us if drivers are refusing to take their responsibility for being able to enjoy the privilege of using their "luxury" personal transport. Instead here is one person blaming his own inability for being in control of his vehicle, and for his inadequacy to plan ahead, on cyclists.

Please, sir, give up your licence. Just by your attitude it is very obvious to me that being in control of a dangerous machine like a motor-vehicle is a privilege you don't deserve.


I am very interested in the way AMH has cast his argument: that self-powered movement is a right, and motor-assisted movement is a privilege. The proof: Anyone can walk without need of testing or licensing, but motorists must be tested, licensed and through that licensing system, supervised.
We might pause a moment and think about electric-assist bicycles or motorized wheelchairs, but it is an interesting position nonetheless.


Fred's letter could simply be passed off as the ranting of a fringe caroholic if only didn't resonate with such a large minority of misinformed and maligned motorists in dire need of education and attitude adjustment.

The Highway Traffic Act in Ontario, supplemented by various regional and municipal by-laws, defines how our road infrastructure is to be shared and specifies conditions and actions for vehicle operation.

The HTA and local by-laws stipulate that bicycles are vehicles, and cyclists are vehicle operators, with all of the same rights and duties as motorists, with very few expectations.

We all pay for provincial roads infrastructure out of common income and other tax revenues, and municipal road infrastructure out of property tax revenues. Cyclists, pedestrians, motorists and other travelers on our roadways all have rights and duties under law in sharing this common infrastructure, and it's well past time when cyclists and motorists alike recognized this and started behaving accordingly.

AMH's position is interesting, yet is incorrect in stating that "cycling is a right" without further qualification. Cycling is subject to the HTA and related by-laws, and comes with both rights and duties under those laws.

I would, however, wholeheartedly agree with AMH on education ... we need much better education for road users. Let's start with Fred and his ilk.


Fred is starting to realize that the winter is not the same as summer. The roads are narrower, slippery and more dangerous. Driving (or cycling) requires more care. But Fred's enlightenment is incomplete! Rather than adjust his driving, he'd rather attempt to control the conditions. He would rather remove potential dangers and obstacles than exercise caution around them. What useless bylaws should we enact next Fred? Outlawing parked cars, pedestrians, garbage trucks, and other drivers every time the snow flies? Driving (and cycling) would be so much easier if everything and everyone got out of the way.


Although somewhat edited from the original, my rebuttal letter was published today here: http://news.therecord.com/Opinions/article/302121

John Spragge

I write more about this in my own weblog, but I'll put the shorter version here: the petulant combination of entitlement (we have a right to drive whether we can stop safely for other road users or not) and helplessness (we can't stop!) closely matches the excuses preferred by abusive individuals in many other situations.


When I saw Mr. Snider's letter in the Record I was aghast at the appalling ignorance and lack of consideration of other users of our publicly funded and regulated roads. Bicycles are considered a vehicle under the Highway Traffic Act, and although there are a disappointing number of cyclists who believe themselves to be exempt from normal rules of traffic, they are nevertheless subject to the same laws as motorized vehicles. Imagine if Mr. Snider objected to SmartCars as being, in his opinion, unfit for use on a road because they're difficult to see or hey!, 'just too small'. Cyclists should exercise the same care as a motorist when considering the weather & road conditions when they set out. Snow tires, proper gear and caution where there's snow and ice. The problem is not with cyclists on the road in winter, it's everyone--motorists, cyclists & pedestrians alike--recognizing winter presents a different playing field.


I love the replies,
I enjoy enjoy the irony of them because it was he who was initially asking for the removal of cyclists off of our roads "for our own safety".
Notice that almost all of these are calling for the same thing; the removal of the (by his own admission) dangerous and aggressive driver off of our roads.


And I also enjoy how, in all of the replies, no-one has self-identified themselves as a cyclist.

I couldn't have orchestrated a better reaction if I tried.

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Bill Bean

  • North America is eventually going to figure out that, for all the right reasons, we need more bicycles on our roads. Dust off your bicycle and go cycling. And if the gas-burning dinosaurs start to crowd you, it's your road and you paid for it. Take the lane for yourself.

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