Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Disoriented, disrespected and disappointed

My plan for this blog was to keep things positive, showing the happier and accessible side of being a car-free family who ride bikes. I think I have achieved this pretty well so far, but today, readers, I need to share some frustration, so you know what we as a family are up against some days.

Today started like most days will for the rest of the summer. The kids and I walked to their day camps a short distance away at Trout Lake Community Centre, and I got a bit of free time to take a walk around the park and get some fresh air after being stuck inside for a few days due to rain. Then I picked up my youngest, as he's not in full day camp yet. We came home, had some lunch, and I spontaneously decided to take him to Science World, where we enjoy the privilege of having a family membership. Little aside here - if you're on the fence about a membership here or at similar centres in your city, I assure you it is a fantastic idea; it is the easiest way to entertain the kids time and again for the price of two visits.
Etienne in the Mirror Room in the DaVinci Exhibit -
Boy am I glad I only have one of him!
Back to my day...after taking the 10th Avenue and Ontario Bikeways to science world, we enjoyed a mommy and son afternoon, spending about an hour and a half at Science World before heading home to pick up my eldest from her full day camp. I decided to take the Central Valley Greenway (CVG) home. It is the quickest way to get from False Creek to Commercial and Broadway, but is also, unfortunately, populated with a few really intense uphill climbs. But I have no problem getting off and walking up hill if I have to, so off I go. 

This is when things started to go south. The City of Vancouver is currently doing some road construction in 1st at the CVG. I knew this, but also knew that they had left a cycle path open on the bikeway for cyclists to get by. Or at least I thought they still had. I was wrong, and the road has been completely torn up, leaving cyclists to dismount and take the sidewalk. Well, this is certainly a pain in the butt, especially when I had to move some pylons out of the way so I could fit my bike and trailer past to walk up the hilly sidewalk. But hey, road construction is a necessary evil, right, and I can live with the temporary inconvenience and take another route next time. 

The road work on 1st Avenue.
What bothers me is that this construction has been going on for several weeks, and yet there was no signage warning cyclists they were going to be losing road access in the near future. Meanwhile, back in May, while walking South on Main Street towards Broadway several times after work, I noticed signs warning motorists that there would be lengthy construction in the area in the coming months. Now, what I want to know is, why can this courtesy not be shown to people on two wheels on their dedicated routes? Are we not to be afforded the same respect?

Respect, that brings me to the next unpleasant part of my day. While hauling the bike and trailer up the sidewalk, complete with a napping child, I heard some yell from behind me incomprehensibly. I turned around to see what was going on, to see a Lycra clad cyclist coming up behind me. I wasn't sure why he yelled at me, as there was plenty of room to go around this struggling mother, so I kept going, ensuring there was still space for him. He then passed me, turned around, and gave me the nastiest look. Apparently, my use of the sidewalk was a massive two second inconvenience to him, causing him to divert slightly from his straight line. What brings people to be so disrespectful? It caused me to immediately tweet, "What kind of a-hole yells at a mom pulling a child uphill?" It really makes me sad that some people seem to have lost the idea of common decency toward another human being. But, I needed to get home, so I continue on, fuming but figuring he must have had a bad day to be so rude.

Me shortly after being yelled at by a fellow cyclist.
I really must have looked like the biggest jerk.
So, you've heard how things come in three's, right? Well not two minutes later, while travelling along the downhill stretch of Great Northern Way, I had to get off my bike AGAIN, as there was MORE construction blocking the cycle/pedestrian path, forcing cyclists and pedestrians onto the road and into traffic. I ask, once again, can cyclists not be afforded the same respect as motorists and be warned when their main arteries will be unaccessible due to construction?

Lane Closed to cyclists...too bad!
So now I'm left disappointed in my city. The safe cycle routes I use nearly daily are frequently blocked for construction, without notice, putting my family and I in danger sometimes. There are also people out there who refuse to give others respect if they're in their way, even if they're on a bike, too. So what do I do now to lift my spirits and hope for my city?

What I will do is take tonight to relax, remember why it is I do what I do, and live how I live. I do so because I want to be a positive role model for my children and other families out there trying to do what we are doing. I will remember that some people have bad days and take it out on others without meaning to, and some people are just grumpy people, and no amount of kindness can change that. Tomorrow is a new day, and I will do my best to keep a smile on my face as much as possible, and just keep riding!
After all the crap, spending some quality time with
my little man is what matters most


  1. It drives me CRAZY when there are no signs warning you that a bike route is blocked due to construction. I can't remember how many times I've ridden down a street, only to be expected to turn around & go back because the only signs telling you the road's closed are right in front of the construction. Same goes for lack of respect for pedestrians. Why should I walk three blocks out of my way because of construction that nobody told me about?

  2. Hear hear! I was recently riding, with my 2 year old in the trailer, to a meeting at work (therefore time constraints on me) and I hit some road construction in Richmond. I was faced with either retracing my path back a few blocks and being diverted a long way around (and thus being quite late for the meeting), or going over to the left side of the street on the sideway, going the wrong way. I chose the latter but was nervous the whole time because in the past when I've gone on the sidewalk (out of necessity) I've had negative comments about the sidewalk being for pedestrians (and I can see their point because of the wide path of the trailer). If I had taken the former route I probably would have been yelled at by drivers because I would have to travel on the road where there was no bike route. I even had a bus driver yell at me to get off the road once. Very frustrating. Luckily no comments on this trip.