Watch your ass, Bicycle Man -or- Walking, Riding, and Being Ridden Over on the Burrard Street Bridge

It was so beautiful today that I decided to walk home from MacDonald and Broadway. This requires that, at some point, I cross a bridge to get downtown. I chose Burrard as it was closest to me, and of the three immediate bridges, it puts me closest to my place of residence. Of course, Burrard Street Bridge is also a bustling bicycle route in Vancouver, allowing office workers to commute to and from their jobs.

Hey, good on ’em. I gave a thumbs up and pretend high-fived every blessed one of them.

Except for you, Mr. get-the-hell-outta-my-way-I-am-a-bicyclist. Yes, I see your fancy road bike, and I see your reflective patches, your over-sized aerodynamic helmet, your skin tight outfit, and I see your man-junk. Oh, are the five professional cyclists in front of you going to slow?  Then blast on by!  Oh, but you’re scared of traffic?  Well, just head into the pedestrian lane and scream “Get out-a-tha-waaaaay!”.

Please, I beg of you Mr. did-you-not-hear-me-I-am-a-fucking-bicyclist, leave your ego at home, or at work, or really anywhere either than in plain view, rolling around the edge of your seat like a couple of under cooked pirogies struggling to break away from their polyester prison.

I was almost run over by a bicyclist on the Burrard Street Bridge yesterday. On each side of the bridge, there is a one lane each for foot and bicycle traffic. Sure, maybe I should have joined my northern-bound bicycle compatriots on the east side of the bridge as I came downtown. If there had been signs instructing me to walk on the other side, I would have. No sweat.

But you know what, I wasn’t the only one walking North on my side. There were at least a dozen of us – a dozen of the smartest, life-loving walkers in this city. Why? Well, what’s there to see east of Burrard? Nothing, that’s what, unless you consider a cement factory something, or the ugliest bridge in the GVRD something. To the west is a beautiful beach, sunbathers bathing, sailboats sailing, dogs frolicking and fornicating, and old people watching it all from their west end apartments. To the east, the false creek harbor – the crapper of our fair city’s boating population.

Two months ago, the city revealed that the cost to modify the bridge to allow for increased bicycle space had quadrupled to a staggering $57 million. I have a better solution: thumb’s ups and high fives, but only for those that deserve them.

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: davidsemeniuk.com

8 Responses to “Watch your ass, Bicycle Man -or- Walking, Riding, and Being Ridden Over on the Burrard Street Bridge”

  1. Julia

    Bummer about the lame cyclist. Your description of him reminded me of these funny Bud Light (aka water) ads that ran on American radio for a bit. http://thefuntimesguide.com/2004/10/bud_light_real.php

    My favs are Mr. 80 SPF Sunblock wearer and Mr. Really Loud Cell Phone Talker Guy, but there are lots of gems in there.

  2. Timon

    Awesome rage sir. In terms of facilitating bike traffic on that particular bridge, weren’t there alternative proposals that were significantly cheaper? The figure you mentioned is Captain Insane-o!

  3. Dave Semeniuk

    The only alternative I’m aware of would be to shut down two lanes of the bridge and dedicate them to bicycle traffic. This is equally as insane-o for commuters, since the bridge is regularly clogged as is.

  4. Vivian

    That happened to me once. Except I was the slow biker (going literally at 10km/hr) who got in the way of Mr. and Mrs. get-the-hell-outta-my-way-I-am-a-bicyclist. Both of them freaked me out on the bridge because they kept passing by me and I had not noticed except their their loud shrieks of “ON YOUR LEFT!!!!!”. Naturally, as someone who never even exercises regularly, this freaks the shit out of me. And also, I am about a couple of inches away of automobile traffic going at 70km/hr or faster, I can totally imagine an accident.

  5. Scott

    I stand behind the cyclist. I ride across this bridge there and back 5 times a week.
    There are signs at the start of the bridge and painted signs on the sidewalk at various points across the bridge. There are a lot of people like yourself who float around in a bubble on that bridge. This becomes very irritating after a few hundred encounters… Next time get your head out of your ass and stop perving on sun bathers maybe you won’t almost get killed.

  6. Dave Semeniuk

    Next time get your head out of your ass and stop perving on sun bathers maybe you won’t almost get killed.

    Lets play “imagine” Scott. Imagine a car hopping a curb and driving along the sidewalk, simply because the driver of that car felt the car ahead of them was “going too slow”. Now, imagine that driver almost hitting you and saying, “Learn how to walk, stupid!” This is utterly ridiculous. Bicycles are vehicles. I was not aimlessly floating around the bicycle lane – the bicyclist came in my lane. What this particular bicyclist did was the equivalent to the car hopping the curb.

    That said, when the bike lanes were first put in, bicycling in Vancouver wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today. Both foot and bike traffic on that bridge are near capacity – we all need to play nicely and come up with a practical solution (preferably one that doesn’t cost $57 million).

  7. Chris

    I’m all for bicycle commuting, but as I live only 9 blocks from work, I commute using a vehicle somewhat cheaper than a bike, namely, shoes. I walk along 10th Ave which is a designated bicyle route, and for 8 or 9 blocks, I stick to the sidwalk and the bicycles stick to the road (running every stop sign, but I guess that’s their business). But along comes Cambie Street, and a gaping abyss between it’s East and West side, connected only by a six foot-wide bridge, adorned generously with signs instructing cyclists to dismount and walk. In a year and a half, I think I could count the number of cyclists that heeded that sign on one hand. Some slow down and ride a pedestrian-friendly pace, but many follow the Mr. did-you-not-hear-me-I-am-a-fucking-bicyclist school of riding and blast down the sidewalk yelling or ringing a bell hoping their human obstacles will leap clear before rubber and metal meet flesh. I think there would be a lot less resitance to bicycle commuting if so many cyclists weren’t dinks.

  8. Nick

    There are offenders on both sides. As someone with a cycling dependency, I hate people on foot who meander down the middle of a path (especially one that is designated a bike route!), and there are definitely cyclists who need to slow down and be courteous to peds. Everyone just needs to be respectful and mindful of others’ travels!

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