Local Cyclists Say London Roads Are Unsafe

Bike Path. (BlackburnNews.com File Photo by Victoria Sartor.)

It’s a common complaint among cyclists in London.

They just don’t feel safe on the city’s streets.

UWO student Jessica Fanning, whose bicycle is her primary mode of transportation, says there are not enough bike lanes in London. She says she ends up on the sidewalk because the busy roads make it difficult for her to stay safe.

“Especially in the downtown area where the roads are very narrow and it’s a high density of traffic, I try to stick to sidewalks or the bike path that goes along the river,” she says.

Fanning adds having to be on the sidewalk is inconvenient for her and pedestrians. She says it is difficult to commute this way because she rides very slowly while on the sidewalk.

“Especially if you’re in a hurry and you want to get somewhere quickly, it would be nice to go on the road, but I’d rather not die.”

She thinks driver education is important, but says the behaviour of cyclists also needs to change.

“A lot of them, not all of them, but a lot of them do break the laws on the road by going through lights and things like that,” says Fanning. “And that just contributes to the negative connotations of being a cyclist.”

Hubert Orlowski rides his bike everyday. He says London is not the safest place to cycle.

“I have a lot of people getting frustrated at me just for being on the road, not necessarily even being in their way,” says Orlowski. “With that, combined with high traffic and not enough bike lanes, makes it really hard to be safe all the time.”

He says the city has done well in creating bike routes in parks and along the Thames River, but it is still not convenient for commuter cyclists.

“For people that are cycling casually or doing it as a recreation, it’s fantastic, but as far as commuting cyclists, you really have to pick and choose your way through and carve your own path, and I think there’s not enough safety out there for either cyclists or for drivers,” says Orlowski.

He says he stays on roads whenever possible, but when it comes to travelling on streets like Oxford and Adelaide, he rides on the sidewalk. He adds he has been tapped a few times by drivers who were not expecting a cyclist to be on such busy streets.

“There are drivers that will drive right past you and they won’t give you enough clearance and it makes me feel like I’m inconveniencing them,” he says. “And other drivers, even though you’re within the law, doing what you should be doing, they still honk at you or yell at you from their window, or toss things at you even. So, things can get pretty hairy on the road sometimes.”

He believes cyclists and drivers need to become more educated and learn to communicate on the road.

“A lot of cyclists, they do their hand signals or they signal that they’re stopping or slowing down, but that means absolutely nothing to a driver who has never biked on the road before,” says Orlowski.

Orlowski says there is animosity between some motorists and cyclists. But he still believes London can become more bicycle friendly.

“It has to come from the drivers being more educated, the cyclists being respectful of the law, and the city providing the resources for that to happen.”

London’s City Plan suggests a Cycling Master Plan will be prepared to create a cycling network for bicycle commuting and another for recreational cycling. The plan will also include standards for signage and lane identification as well as educational initiatives to promote safe cycling in London.