A letter from an e-biker
It seems like a traditional cyclist's favourite thing to criticize these days are the new e-bikes that are popping up on Toronto's roads, and yes, the bike paths. Not quite bicycles, as they are typically not being pedalled, and not quite scooters, travelling at restricted speeds. More like scooters than bicycles, but importantly for road safety, they sport bright taillights and headlights, turn signals, and dual mirrors.
Here's a letter to make you think about them from the point of view of someone riding them. Maryann King wrote this letter in response to the negative piece about e-bikes recently published in NOW magazine.
Dear Paul Terefenko… you sound suspiciously like one of the "lance-armstrong-wannabes" that I have to deal with daily. You know, the ones on the Martin Goodman trail that are going 35kmh in a 20kmh zone, the ones who don't stop at the stop signs which say "Cyclists must stop", the ones who plow through every red light on Queens Quay, the ones who don't slow for joggers and move into the left lane going around blind corners. I face your type every weekday morning as I commute to work on my e-bike, following the rules of the road. I am a 57 year old woman living at Lake Shore and Long Branch. I work at Queen and Yonge. I used to ride a regular bike, but I am having knee problems. So I purchased an electric bike in April and I have been riding my e-bike to work. This costs me $.04 per night to charge and I am emitting no green house gases into the atmosphere.
It is very unsafe riding on the Queensway. The only other way for me to get past the Humber is to take the Lakefront trail. I checked with a policeman who told me it is legal for me to ride my bike on the path, as long as I obey the limits and signs. I have done so. I am respectful of all joggers, runners, dog walkers, skateboarders and certainly other bikes while I am on there. To those on the path who have now accepted me as one of them, I give my thanks. My bike is no wider than a pedal bike. It is not noisy. (I sometimes have to warn the birds that I am coming.) Going home at night I stay on the Queensway until Windemere and only take the path to get over the bridge; on the other side, I get off as soon as the street becomes available and take the Lake Shore or Birmingham home.
My biggest problem on the road today, is that so many bicyclists do not follow the rules of the road, so drivers are understandably distrusting of anyone on a two-wheeled vehicle. Yes, there will be more of us on the road. As soon as there is a more viable way for us to commute, we'll use it. Until then, I accept that there will always be elitists like you and Yvonne Bambrick of the Toronto Cyclists Union (and I am using the term 'union' loosely, since she won't accept me as one of her ranks), and I will smile and nod my helmet as I pass. I paid over $14000 in income tax last year, and I have the right to use the the facilities like all the peddlers, as long as I obey the laws.