Share the roads, and the sidewalks.
There are many ways to get around in a big city like Toronto. Biking, driving, walking, public transit of many forms. I’ve done them all, and they all have their upsides and downsides for many reasons. The one that stands out for most is when I see people utilizing a mode of transport and going about it obliviously to the detriment of others trying to get around in various ways. Here’s some handy tips, apropos of nothing, but that I felt like getting off my chest!
Are you a pedestrian?
- Try not to wander out into traffic without looking. It’s much harder to stop a car/bus/streetcar/bicycle quickly than it is for you to think before stepping out.
- Listen for bike bells/look out for bikes coming your way. They’re traffic, too! It amazes me how bike-blind some pedestrians are.
- For the love of glob, please PLEASE stop walking five abreast on the sidewalk and getting huffy when people coming directly at you trying to pass by have to basically walk into you.
- I totally understand crossing the road where there’s no designated crossing – I do it all the time, but after I check that I’m not just wandering into traffic. This is especially frustrating when pedestrians pop out from between parked cars – not a fun surprise.
Are you a driver?
- Pedestrians have right of way at designated road crossings. Don’t be crappy about it, it’ll likely only add 5 – 10 seconds to your journey.
- Look before you turn or change lanes – and even more helpfully, indicate in the lead up to doing it! The other people on the road can’t read your mind.
- Queuing across intersections is a dumb move. You will just end up making it hard for people at pedestrian crossings, and the folks who’ve been waiting for the opposite light to change.
- Don’t block bike lanes. There’s so few of ’em!
- Check before you fling open your door in case of oncoming vehicular/bike traffic.
Are you a bicyclist?
- Unless you’re a child, please don’t ride on the sidewalk. It’s a safe space for people to be walking, and it’s an unnecessary obstacle.
- Signal properly! Just like drivers, nobody can guess what you’re about to do, so give ’em a heads up.
- WEAR A HELMET. Ugh.
- If you’re gonna share a crossing with pedestrians, don’t make it hard for them – if it’s busy, walk it, if not, just ride at enough of a distance to not take over the whole thing.
Are you a public transit driver?
- I’ve seen a lot of bus drivers be pretty awesome about letting bicyclists past them as they stop frequently. That’s so great. Keep it up!
- Most of the other driver stuff up there goes too, but you’re so much bigger than the rest of us, so please take care.
Seeing things from all of the transport perspectives has made me a much more aware and considerate traveler in all modes. On the occasions I drive I’m now HYPER aware of bicyclists. Being a bicyclist can be frustrating, but a great way to get around if you’re just thinking about safety a little while you’re at it. Even if you’ve never seen it from one of these perspectives, try to think about it when you’re getting around next in your city and arm yourself with common sense.