Who says Toronto cyclists are poorly behaved?
The last week or so has witnessed renewed and often heated discussion about the riding habits of Toronto cyclists across Toronto media outlets both mainstream and otherwise. Sparked in large part by Emma Woolley's "An open letter to my fellow cyclists," it's been fascinating to follow the various points and opinions regarding the nature of traffic laws and the degree to which cyclists are properly bound by them. This is, without a doubt, an important discussion to be had — and one far more complicated than it is often considered (as Woolley's own position on stop signs and subsequent articles allude to).
What's not getting as much play as it should, however, is critical examination of the ground upon which many of these arguments have been built, namely that a huge portion of Toronto cyclists are renegades who routinely disregard the rules of the road. Woolley puts this number at around 50 per cent, while a Toronto Star article quotes a source who claims that 95 per cent of cyclists run red lights.
Bracketing behaviour at stop signs (where cyclists rarely adhere to the letter of the law) my inclination is to characterize these estimates as gross exaggerations. I suppose, however, my impressions are no more valid than anyone else's in the absence of some form of supporting documentation. Well, James Schwartz over at the Urban Country has taken to the task of providing just that. It's anything but authoritative — based, as it is, on one morning commute — but the video below paints a decidedly different picture of cyclist behaviour in this city than what I've seen of late.
Some will say the bad parts have been edited out, which I suppose is possible. You'll ultimately have to make your own call regarding the relative honesty of the video (I trust that it's a fair portrayal of Schwartz's commute), but my experience riding Toronto streets over the years tells me that local cyclists are better behaved than they're given credit for, and this clip supports that position.
These two videos can't be directly compared, but this look at an NYC intersection might drive home the point that we're all just a bit better behaved up here.
3-Way Street from ronconcocacola on Vimeo.
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