George Papadakos - Triathlon Tales
It has been a true pleasure to write about my experiences and exploits in the multi-sport world. I really enjoy hearing feedback from my dedicated readers and triathlon fans alike.
However I need to get serious here in hopes that I can get a point across.
Now it comes as no surprise that triathletes and cyclist spend a lot of time on the road. On these roads there are cars and trucks and all other manner of vehicle as well.
What I can't understand is, "why can't we share the road?"
Even though I am a newcomer to the triathlon world, I have heard of numerous athletes that have been driven off the road, sworn at, and even killed or badly hurt by distracted and frustrated drivers.
You don't have to go to far out of town to lay witness to a ghost bike that is a constant reminder of a cyclist that was taken away from us far to early in his life.
One of my best friends is laid up right now after being hit by car that actually saw him coming.
Another story that is big in London right now is of a 55-year-old school teacher, who is an avid cyclist and advocate for keeping cyclists safe on the road. She now lays in a hospital bed wondering if she'll ever walk again.
There are too many stories of needless death and accidents that I just can't take it anymore.
I have even had someone honk their horn incessantly, drive up slowly behind me and then give me the finger and tell me what he thought about me (and it wasn't very nice). All I can ask is why?
But without grouping all drivers together, as some of my best friends are drivers, I think we need to discuss how we can keep more cyclists safe on our roads and perhaps educate drivers as well.
If this sounds harsh, it should. If I save one life I would be happy, two lives over the moon, and three lives... well they just might make me a saint.
First of all share the road, plain and simple. As stated in the highway traffic act cyclist are to be treated as a motor vehicle.
So when you see a cyclist don't try to squeeze between them and oncoming traffic. Wait until traffic is clear and you have enough room (at least 1 metre clearance) to get by... kind of like when passing a car (get it).
Cyclist are allowed to be in the middle of the lane, and if you come across a cyclist doing so it may be for good reason. For example – loose gravel, stones, poor pavement conditions, glass or construction. Give them a moment to get over in a safe manner.
You may think that honking is a great idea but I'm going to tell you it's not. I would say 99 out of 100 cyclists (and this is probably higher) knows you're there, no need for honking. This, as you can imagine could cause a bit of distress to cyclists and for younger riders that can be spooked a little easier.
Obviously freeing yourself from distractions such as cell phones is sure way to keep your eyes on the road and focused on cyclists and any other traffic that may be up ahead. Don't use the back roads to get caught up on emails, texts and Candy Crush.
I think this next point is good for both cyclist and drivers alike. Learn your cycling road signals as they are one of the only ways to communicate with drivers. If one would like to brush up on his or her road signals they are listed neatly at bikesafety.caa.ca.
Now I get it... you're in a rush and want to get home from work or you have some other activity that you need to get to, but that five seconds you have to wait until it's safe to pass a cyclist can more than be made up.
Remember we are people too. We are sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, friends and neighbours and most importantly humans, and we share a common fear as we head out on those roads. When you see a cyclist, use caution, we would really appreciate it.
Until I meet you at the start line, train safe and have fun!!
I would like to dedicate this article to M.B. who is a true friend, great husband and father and is battling with some post-accident symptoms. Keep tough Buddy!!