13.6.08

Cyclists and motorists spat as fuel prices skyrocket

from the Associate Press

Bicycle shops all over Canada are experiencing a glut of business as fuel prices continue to rise. In the province of Nova Scotia, a litre of gasoline reached an all time high of $1.81 today. Residents from the city and neighbouring suburbs are feeling a heavy pinch as the prices of other goods increase due to rises in shipping costs. Legions of people have begun to ride bicycles instead of driving their cars.

Increasingly, consternation between drivers and the droves of new cyclists is causing ill feelings and tension on the roads and highways. The traffic bi-laws in the city of Halifax place the bicycle in the same category as motor vehicles. Many of the new cyclists complain of being run off the road by drivers who do not give them the right of way as decreed by the city’s bylaws. Furthermore, cyclists are running red lights and going the wrong way on one-way streets to cut down on their commuting time. A local cycling advocacy group claims that cyclists should have more rights than drivers and that they should not be treated the same, as they do not have the ability to accelerate as a motor vehicle does. The group, called Bikers for a Cleaner HRM, also claim that cyclist should have more rights do to the fact that they are not polluting the environment and do not take up as much real-estate in city centre as automobile parking.

One bike shop owner we talked to said that some of his employees were going home in tears do to the excessive demand for new bikes. Bike mechanics are working twelve-hour shifts assembling new bicycles and refurbishing old ones. Shelves generally stacked with accessories such as tires, inner tubes, and lights, are completely empty. Bob Derailleur of Bob’s Bikes told us that he hoped things would slow down soon but that he’d never made so much money in such a short time.

City officials have reacted by staying out of the heated public dilemma. Recently they overturned a request by a special interest group to subsidise fuel for certain industries. However, the city officials refuse to hear any proposals to change traffic bi-laws, which would give cyclists more rights to the road. One official was quoted as stating that “our roads are made for cars, not bikes! If you want to ride a bike you should go to the park but keep off the roads because people need to get to where their going and cyclists make the roads extremely dangerous for drivers.” Who will win the war of the roads between cyclists and cars remains to be seen, as tensions continue to rise with the rising fuel prices.


Cog Shimano reporting from Halifax for the World Absurdist Press

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

RAS,

Don't I remember you having a biker vs. angry cop showdown for going the wrong way on a one way street?

nm said...

Timely. Been researching bikes. Seriously contemplating turning my morning/evening commute into an additional workout...