Tanya Quinn is one crazy biker chick. That's not an insult. It's just who she is, a biking activist and one of the thousands of Torontonians who cycle year-round in all kinds of weather, not just on sunny summer afternoons.
Photo By Tanya Quinn
Tanya Quinn’s Ikea convoy.
She's logged more than 1,100 kilometres since January 1. She runs errands on her bike and even rented a trailer to do some serious shopping at Ikea, a 40-km round trip from her home.
She details her adventures on her blog, crazybikerchick (crazybikerchick.blogspot.com). The following blog excerpt, Quinn's open letter to motorists who don't like cyclists, has been translated into several languages and distributed around the world.
My bike is not a toy. I don't aspire to be Lance Armstrong. I'm not too poor to afford a car. I choose a bicycle because it's healthier for me and for the city I live in. I'm not riding in the middle of the lane to slow you down or thwart you. I'm just trying to do the same thing you are - get from point A to point B safely.
Maybe you think there's room for me to ride in the gutter, but I have a better view of that part of the road than you do. It has debris that will flatten my tires and potholes that can break my bones.
In an ideal world, I would ride far enough away from your car door that it wouldn't matter if you flung it open when I least expected it. But the downtown streets are very congested, and there's not a lot of space. So please look before you open your door.
You may think riding a bicycle in a downpour or a snowstorm is crazy. It's actually quite pleasant if you're dressed for it. But I don't expect you to "get it." I only expect you to remember that a human being riding a bicycle is out there.
Some roads have painted bicycle lanes. In an ideal world, cyclists and motorists could share the roadway without special lines. But after being honked at one too many times for taking a narrow lane or buzzed too close when attempting to share one, I find bike lanes are a place of refuge. Please try to respect this refuge by finding a different spot to park your car when you run into Starbucks, and definitely do not think of this space as the way to get around a left-turning vehicle.
I was going to say in conclusion that all I really want is for you to treat me with the same respect you would give any other road user. But after noticing the frequency with which motorists hit each other, I would add an extra caveat. Please recognize that cyclists are more vulnerable road users.
Before you wish us off the road, remember we are helping to ease traffic congestion.
And keep in mind that leaving space always helps road safety, whether it's an extra foot when passing a cyclist or an extra few feet when stopping behind another car. When we work cooperatively on the roads rather than in mad competition, we can all get where we are going just a little less stressfully.