I’m a winter cyclist

That’s right, I cycle commute to work year round and this is the 4th winter for riding in the snow & cold.

Some think I’m a little crazy, perhaps.

Some think it’s too dangerous, perhaps.

Car drivers dislike cyclists, and especially winter cyclists, perhaps.

So far this winter the riding has been going well, and I’m very impressed with the motorists that I encounter on my route. They have been very considerate, giving me lots of space as they pass and no honking or rude gestures. I can’t say the same for some pedestrians.

Actually, most pedestrians are just fine, but so far this year I’ve received the most “comments” from those on two feet. Perhaps that’s just because you typically can’t hear what the people in the vehicles are saying or thinking, which might be a good thing. Ignorance is bliss.

<rant>

About a week ago, after the 1st big snowfall, I’m cycling along on a path that parallels Fermor along side Windsor Park, near my home. A gentleman is our shoveling his sidewalk. He sees me coming down the path, and it starts.

“You’ve got to be kidding” – repeatedly in an unfriendly tone.

“Take a bus!” – louder

“Are you crazy!” – really getting agitated now

I wave to him in a friendly manner.

“Do you have no consideration for others!?!”

“Are you trying to get yourself killed? Do you have a death wish?!?” – hitting a crescendo now. I’m thinking he’s expecting me to turn around and go home.

I wave to him again, in a less friendly manner, my bad, I should have just let the whole thing slide.

A week or two goes by and we get another big snowfall. Of course this is when the riding is the most challenging for a couple of days until all the ploughing gets completed. My next encounter with a pedestrian is riding into work right after the snowfall. A lady is walking two dogs down on the Assiniboine River Walkway. As I approach from behind I slow down and wait for her to notice me. I cough a couple of times just for good measure. She is walking right up the middle. The dogs are on both sides of her at full leash extension so the 8′ path is totally blocked.

When she notices me I hear “Sorry” and she reels in one of the dogs so I can pass. No problem I think, I’m not in a rush and this is fine. Just as I pass I hear “You should get a bell”, in the kind of tone that implied I’ve done something wrong. I say nothing, and ride off.

I’ve had a bell on the bike and in my 14+ years of cycle commuting, the bell is no better that not having a bell. Here is what typically happens with “the bell”.  You ring from a ways back, they don’t hear it, you ring again at a closer range and then they do hear it and things typically get worse. They get startled and either jump right in front of you, or swear at you for scaring them, or both. So, you really can’t win.

</rant>

In over 200 days of cycling a year people and cars are generally very good but you always need to be ready for the exceptions. Typically, once a year, I have a close encounter with a vehicle, thankfully never a full contact kind. I find that as long as you’re aware of your surrounding and make plans to get out of the way, things go well.

Safe cycling everyone.

 

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