Transportation

Watch for Dangerous Driver on Aberdeen

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published November 23, 2012

I had a rather unsettling encounter with a motorist on Aberdeen the other evening, and thought perhaps other RTH readers might watch out and report his behaviour if it happens again.

Around 6:00 PM I turned right onto Aberdeen from Studholme at the new bike activated lights. I then changed lanes (signalling) so I would be able to turn left immediately off Aberdeen at Hawthorne to get onto the quiet streets north of Aberdeen. At this point there was no eastbound traffic on the road.

As I was waiting for a gap in the westbound traffic so I could turn (with my left arm out), a car zoomed up behind me and began continuously blaring his horn.

When I asked him why he was honking, he shouted, "You're going to get yourself killed! You should be on the sidewalk!"

Now, I was being very careful to obey all traffic laws: I was signalling my turn from the left lane, I had front and rear lights and reflectors on my bike, and I was wearing a cycling jacket with reflective strips.

When I pointed out that it is in fact illegal to ride on the sidewalk, he just repeated, "You should stay on the sidewalk or you're going to get killed. I do this all the time to cyclists for their own safety."

I got the distinct impression that he would be quite happy to show me why I was at risk of being killed...

He then claimed that I posed a danger to him because he was confused by the reflective strips and the red light on the back of my bike!

Unfortunately, I didn't get his license number, but he was white, 30-40, with short curly brown hair and driving a recent greyish four-door sedan.

Since he seems to be on a mission to intimidate and frighten cyclists off the road, it would be helpful if other cyclists (and pedestrians) could be on the lookout and try to get his license number next time he tries to scare cyclists off the road "for their own safety."

I would imagine he is a commuter who doesn't want to be bothered by cyclists as he drives home on Aberdeen.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

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By jds (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 06:43:22

I do suspect the reason many motorists show little respect for cyclists on the roads is because many cyclists show little respect for the rules of the road. Not stopping for stop signs, red lights, riding in pedestrian crossings and on the sidewalk when the light doesn't allow it on the road are the types of things that erode other cyclists' rights to share the road. Good for you for having a light, reflective vest and using signals from the appropriate lane. We all need to do this. We don't need cars giving cyclists grief but we do need cyclists giving grief to other cyclists who ignore the rules or this attitude from motorists will never vanish. Still, dimwits like this motorists need to be reported. My eyes are open

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 25, 2012 at 11:13:13 in reply to Comment 83124

Please explain to me how some cyclists not obeying the rules of the road gives drivers the right to harass and bully those that are obeying the rules of the road.

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By tasty herrings (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 10:53:11 in reply to Comment 83124

The same old red herring. No cyclists will be shown respect until all cyclists obey all the rules all of the time.

Maybe the cyclists are purposefully not showing respect to motorists because motorists are always speeding and not using their signals and rolling through stop signs and turning right on red without stopping first etc?

I think your license plate should be your cellphone number. The roads would become instantly safer.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 07:44:36 in reply to Comment 83124

Not disagreeing with you about the fact that cyclists need to learn the rules of the road better - I live downtown in Toronto and my heart skips a beat every time I see another cyclist at a stop sign.

That being said, the reason motorists don't show cyclists respect is because they are 'weiners' - I follow the rules of the road, so don't be disrespecting me because the last guy didn't.

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By MikeyJ (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 12:12:20 in reply to Comment 83126

So far, the only agreed upon answer for safer cycling is better infrastructure = more cyclists = less accidents.

It is also established that cities like Montreal & Amsterdam with higher cycling rates generally have the most cyclists regularly breaking automobile rules: drifting through stop signs, yielding at reds, and focusing on keeping control of their bike instead of signalling when unnecessary.

When you boil it down, the real issue for cyclist safety is this: Automobile drivers expect cyclists to follow automobile rules, even when it is unrealistic to expect cyclists to do so.

If cities started their efforts at increasing cycling rates by setting cycling specific rules like the Idaho Stop, we could possibly avoid much of this useless finger pointing and instead get on with drivers learning the difference between how these two different transportation types use the road.

This could also improve cyclist safety in the interim, instead of solely relying on having high cycling rates when we don’t have the infrastructure to support them yet.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2012 at 07:14:30 in reply to Comment 83124

I do suspect the reason many motorists show little respect for cyclists on the roads is because many cyclists show little respect for the rules of the road.

Cyclists and motorists alike routinely show little respect for the rules of the road. Cyclists roll through stop signs, turn without signalling, ride on the sidewalk and so on; while drivers exceed the speed limit, roll through stop signs, change lanes without signalling, etc.

But no one is suggesting that we should stop respecting drivers or that they don't deserve dedicated space on the road because they don't follow the rules.

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By Julie (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 08:03:04

The only unpleasant experience I've had biking was on Aberdeen when a young-ish male doofus overtook me heading eastbound before the railroad tracks. As he passed he shouted that I should be in the bike lane. There is a painted bike lane at that point on the road - on the other side of the street.

He could not have seen that I properly waited at the light and signalled my left hand turn from Longwood onto Aberdeen, but it was in the middle of the day, and I was in the curb lane, and there are two lanes there.

Perhaps there's an obscure sign somewhere telling doofus motorists to use Aberdeen?

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 11:11:56 in reply to Comment 83129

It is simple, Aberdeen is a glorified on/off ramp to the 403, often used by even more clueless drivers from Burlington, Branford, Ancaster and Oakville.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 09:00:28

Bikes belong on the road! NOT on sidewalks, hoping off curbs, breezing through pedestrian crosswalks etc... that is when it gets dangerous for bicyclists and a nightmare for motorists trying to keep track of where the next bike is going to come from. If you are a driver you should want bicyclists riding on the road and subject to traffic laws, not riding like suburban tweens on sidewalks. You have to have eyes in the back and side of your head to see where the next improperly ridden bike is going to come from in this city. Couple that with all the idiot drivers and I am amazed biclyclists aren't seriously hurt more often in this city.

We need to all share the road and all use it properly!

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By oldcoote (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 09:21:24

Sadly, news this morning of a cyclist killed in Toronto.

Road rage here is nothing compared to Toronto. Hamilton is so easy to drive around, its a wonder that anyone would feel put out by sharing the road with cyclists.

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By Grahamm (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 10:58:18

And in other cities ... http://youtu.be/xFM5QiAd3QA

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By Grahamm (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 10:59:04

Does embedding work?

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By Grahamm (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 10:59:14 in reply to Comment 83140

No.

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By account (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 11:12:13 in reply to Comment 83141

You need to register an account and then your links will be clickable

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 11:09:21

The bike/car war is surely coming to Hamilton and it is going to be uglier than Toronto. At least, to so some tiny degree, there is a modicum of awareness of cyclists in TO. There are a lot more cyclists riding together, their reputation (for good or bad) forces drivers to be aware of them and give them room. It is a crappy situation, but it will pale in comparison to Hamilton - a city that is so hopelessly car-centric that the shift away from this attitude will take decades, if it ever does. I hope that we can avoid the road rage, injury and death, but I am cynical.

Comment edited by Cultosaurus on 2012-11-23 11:09:48

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 25, 2012 at 11:31:22 in reply to Comment 83143

One (ironic) thing that Hamilton does have going for it is that excess lane capacity does make it easier to share the road. There are still a few drivers who refuse to yield any lane, and want to 'teach you a lesson' like the Aberdeen driver cited in this article, but overall it is much easier for people to pass safely, and for the most part they do try to pass safely like decent civilized folk. For the psychos, sadly, complaints to the police may be the only way to get through.

When visiting family in Toronto and biking around I can feel a level of psycho that is not nearly as severe here. Downtown is better adjusted, but as soon as you are outside the core sharing arterials is crazy. So for people comfortable sharing the road, Hamilton is one of the more fortunate places. That said, I would rather see a more comfortable riding environment for people of all ages and abilities, and that would mean converting some excess lane capacity into complete streets. It only takes a few psychos on the road to make all but the brave say 'nope!'

Currently I don't video tape my bike rides with a GoPro, but I did for a while after an SUV with New York license plates deliberately accelerated into me to push me off of the Jolley Cut (before the bike lane was installed - thank you it's appreciated!).

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2012-11-25 11:36:01

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By SG (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 19:38:02

I actually had a similar experience also on Aberdeen... I will watch out for a licence plate, next time!

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By viennacafe (registered) | Posted November 23, 2012 at 23:34:08

Cyclists are notorious for not following the rules of the road. So are pedestrians. But there's a good reason for that. Roads and road rules are designed to include neither. It is like designing a tennis court and then bitching that hockey and soccer players aren't following the rules.

But, worse, the vehicle drivers are notorious for not following the rules. They speed, run lights, drift through stop signs, fail to signal, cross multiple lanes, follow to close, fail to yield, race on coming traffic to make a turn, talk on cell phones, text, fight, work, read, and consider a few seconds of their precious time and convenience more valuable than lives. And they are in control of vehicles ranging from several hundred pounds to several tons.

Maybe if we were a more mature society we would stop pointing fingers and figure out how to make it work for everyone.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2012 at 12:06:58

Interesting to see this devolve into a debate about who obeys the rules of the road more. I thought the point of this post was that there is an unstable driver who doesn't understand the law, who purposely engages in behaviour that puts others (who are in a more vulnerable position) at risk of injury or death.

He needs to be charged, before he kills someone. You think he behaves any more sensibly when he is self-righteously p'd off by a pedestrian or by a fellow driver? I highly doubt it.

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