This is what it’s like for a Burnaby cyclist to get ‘buzzed’ by a driver

Chris Campbell

A Burnaby cyclist contacted me after reading some of my blogs lately about cycling in Burnaby.

Since I am not an actual cyclist, I’ve been learning as I go about what it’s like on Burnaby roads. Many cyclists say there are definitely some good and courteous drivers out there who understand the benefits of sharing the road.

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But this cyclist – who did supply his name – emailed me his thoughts on what it’s like when a driver actually targets a cyclist for whatever dumb reason they think they have.

Here are this cyclists words. I’m just using his first name, Luke.

“As a daily cycle commuter through Burnaby I saw the video posted to your blog, and thought ‘that's not so bad.’ Then realized how sad a statement that was about the state of affairs.

I've dealt with over a dozen road-rage incidents this year alone. Most are bizarre, but even the two incidents where I could see their perspective, is driving too close to me, putting my life at risk, opening your window and screaming an appropriate response?

  • Drivers rolling through stop signs into my path, causing me to tell (no profanity, just an ‘I'm here’ yell), then chasing me down, intentionally buzzing me within inches while screaming - 4 incidents.
  • Rolling coal when I'm in a bike lane and not impacting traffic - 2 incidents.
  • Passing within 6 inches when there's 2 lanes and little traffic on the road - who knows how many.
  • Thinking a bike lane is a pedestrian lane and turning in front of me, stopping to scream at me when I slam on my breaks - 4 incidents.

This is 2019 alone.

The easy majority of drivers are fine, good people. Plenty of friendly smiles on a daily basis, letting me in when they don't need to, some nice red light conversations.

Sometimes they make mistakes, forget to shoulder check or underestimate the speed I'm going. That's easyish to deal with - defensive cycling and understanding that you have a smaller profile and travel differently (careful with passing on the right, you're going faster than they think, and eye contact is vital!). 

I don't believe in any battle with cars and bikes, and will not say cyclists are better or worse. Such an argument only fosters a negative culture and makes the roads more dangerous. People who identify as cyclists are statistically more likely to own a car then the overall populace. 

But there's a not-so-insignificant percentage who target cyclists like the one in the video. They'll use their car as a weapon to put your life in danger for the purposes of sending a message.

You can't anticipate it because they'll break the law to ‘punish’ you. They're unpredictable and predatory. And the worst thing is you can't fight back, and are limited in your ability to confront them. Because in a battle of car and bike who would win?

We need better education regarding this, because others haven't been as lucky as me. People are dying. This needs to change.”

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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