Two More Responses to Star Editorial…

Fellow BFW member Steve Konkle responded to the Windsor Star article that claimed the 3-foot passing law was nonsense. Here’s a link to the well-written letter:

Another cycling advocate (and Ward 3 candidate for city council) Tristan Fehrenbach wrote a response, too. Here’s a link to his:

Thanks for your letters guys! If we don’t right the wrong, who will?

9 thoughts on “Two More Responses to Star Editorial…”

  1. Brittany Tremblay

    I noticed that you didn’t post the letter written by someone on Riverside Drive who added some thoughtful comments about traffic and speed. Is this your way of being inclusive?

    1. That editorial began by referring to the proposed 3-foot passing law as ridiculous. I feel to see how not posting an anti-bike letter on a pro-bike website is uninclusive.

  2. It disappoints me to see people support a law that they call “largely symbolic”, as though their support for it is doing us cyclists any favour. The favour of supporting a largely symbolic law itself only largely symbolic.

    Thanks for that, but we need laws that are actually possible to prove. I’ve called Windsor police for 3 separate incidents and the response I got was “there’s not much we can do, it’s your word against theirs”. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

    Another law that places the burden of impossible proof on the cyclist doesn’t increase our safety at all. Maybe if the Police would actually get out their magical 3-foot-measuring radar guns and actively enforce this law, they might actually save some lives. But when a law’s enforcing effort stops at PR, it may as well not be a law at all.

    To be constructive, a few suggestions that might actually increase safety:
    – More infrastructure
    – More cyclists
    – Mandatory “dealing with cyclists” element of the driving test.
    – Mandatory “get on a bicycle and have the instructor blow past you at 60KM/H” element of the driving test.
    – Cyclist training. Teaching cyclists how to cycle properly, when to take a full lane, how to cycle defensively, etc.
    – Significantly harsher penalties for vehicular manslaughter, or any vehicle related incident
    that causes injury.
    – Having police take cyclist “near misses” complaints a LOT more seriously. These are incidents that put people inches from death, and should be treated no differently than any other physical threat.

    Recently in New Zealand, bus drivers were forced to get onto bicycles and ride among other buses to experience what they put cyclists through. Also, cyclists were put behind the wheel of buses to experience the limited visibility, stopping power and maneuverability that a bus has. A VERY educational experience for both cyclist and driver.


    1. I don’t see this law as unenforceable. Currently if a police officer sees someone pass a cyclist with only a foot of room right now, there isn’t much they can do – unless it causes an accident.

      If a police officer sees someone pass a cyclist with only a foot of room after this law is passed, it is EASIER to ticket the motorist.

      In addition, it follows through with what is currently in the Ontario Driver’s Handbook, and lets motorists know how much space they should be giving cyclists. With the law must come more education, and media exposure of the law – look at how much press the cell phone ban received.

    2. “There’s not much we can do, it’s your word against theirs” – that’s exactly the response I got from the police when I went to report an incident last month. I wonder how frequently they use that line?

      The funds needed to pass this largely symbolic law would be better spent giving police officers real authority to take action against people who try to bully cyclists off the roads.

      1. I’ve had the same said to me when I was assaulted before Philippa. So it’s not just a case of cyclists not being believed. So many people who are mistreated never get help due to the lack of witnesses.

        I just got in touch with Windsor Police to give me a copy of all the bicycle accident locations in the city for the past few years. Once I get the info back I will post it on my site. It will be more helpful than the one the city put out only showing more than 3 accidents at any one location.

    3. To Steve and Phillipa’s comments, I would add the following:

      A three foot passing law is only as effective as any other traffic law; saying that it shouldn’t be enacted since it relies on the presence of the police is basically an argument for dismantling the entire Highway Traffic Act.

      In my mind, people obey traffic laws for three principal reasons: (a) because they make the roads safer, (b) because they are aware that they could get a ticket, and (c) because if they get in an accident, they are much more likely to be found at fault (criminally and civilly) if they were committing an infraction at the time.

      Everything from stop signs to seat belt, drunk driving, and cellphone laws are only theoretically enforceable through the work of the police, and yet the vast majority of people obey them (within reason). I think the same will be true of the three foot passing law.

      More importantly, it will constitute a complete response to any driver who expresses the opinion that bikes ought not to be on the roads: not only do we belong here, but we have legal protection, and if you encroach upon our space, you may find yourself subject to criminal sanction. People will grumble initially, and then they will get tickets, and then they will obey the law. And then cycling will be safer.

  3. I see your point, Mike. The same issue was brought up with that 65 decibel sound law they wanted to enforce here. Council shot it down, because there was no way they’d be able to enforce it properly.

    All the suggestions you made are excellent. Now we just have to figure out how to get them all accomplished! Any thoughts on how to do that?

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