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Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists

Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists

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Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists

112 pagine
48 minuti
Nov 27, 2015


Why do some drivers get so annoyed by the mere presence of cyclists on their roads? Why do cyclists react the way they do?

In Letters to a Driving Nation, the author – a cyclist - explores this ongoing conflict, by de-constructing real-life situations he’s experienced in his decades of cycling. These stories – some amusing, some downright scary - are intermixed with illuminating and well-researched op-eds on topics of interest to both drivers and cyclists.

This book is a must-read for both new and experienced drivers as it provides a cyclist’s perspective on how drivers should and shouldn’t interact with cyclists. Cyclists will want their family, friends, and loved ones who drive to read this so they can get a better appreciation for what it is like to be a cyclist on our roads.

Nov 27, 2015

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Letters to a Driving Nation - Bruce Butler

Letters to a Driving Nation

Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists

By Bruce Butler

Copyright © 2015 Bruce Butler

Smashwords Edition #4

ISBN 978-0-9949538-0-3 (EPUB)

ISBN 978-0-9949538-1-0 (paperback)

ISBN 978-0-9949538-4-1 (audiobook)

Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favourite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

Table of Contents


Author’s Notes

The Goliath Consequence

The Road Hog Conundrum

The Road Sharing Directive

The Two-Metre Corridor

The Disembodied Voice Impairment

The Respect Dilemma

The MYOB Principle

The Springbank Rebuttal

The Bike Licensing Fallacy

The Three-Second Rule

The Flipped Switch Syndrome

The Flag-Planting Dilemma

The Magic Hat Phenomenon

The Ponytail Hypothesis

The Microphallus Disorder

The GoPro Revenge

The Driver-Vehicle Conflation

The Right-of-Way Paradox

The Stanley Cup Effect



About the Author



If you cycle enough, eventually you’ll hear that – or maybe something more colorful. It won’t be from another cyclist or pedestrian, but from someone driving a motor vehicle. It doesn’t matter how well cyclists follow the rules of the road – some drivers just don’t want cyclists around, and they’re not shy about letting their feelings be known.

I find this situation rather ironic since cycling is an activity that’s positive for society: it promotes physical activity, resulting in lower healthcare costs; it lowers the number of motor vehicles on the roads, reducing congestion; and it reduces the amount of greenhouse gas added to our atmosphere. Cycling really is good for everyone, not just those doing the cycling.

Even with these advantages, there’s ongoing friction between drivers and cyclists. Drivers don’t like having to share the road with cyclists, and cyclists feel besieged and threatened by drivers. This conflict has many names: war on cyclists, war on cars, cars vs. bikes, bikelash, and so on, and manifests itself in many ways, from minor annoyances to outright physical conflict.

This book is an exploration of that conflict, from the perspective of someone who is both a cyclist and a driver.

* * *

Cycling has been a part of my life since the day my dad helped me up onto my first tricycle. I’m all grown up now, and currently live in a suburb of Vancouver, Canada called Maple Ridge – a rapidly-growing bedroom community cursed by decades of seemingly uncontrolled residential growth, poor traffic planning, and an almost non-existent public transit system. Back in the early ‘90s, traffic was so bad that driving the fifteen kilometres to work in nearby Port Coquitlam took anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour – longer if there was an collision, bad weather, or if the ancient swing bridge across the Pitt River got stuck in the open position. Idling in gridlock one rainy November morning, a cyclist passed me on the shoulder – making much better time than us poor schmucks stuck in our cars – and I thought, Hey, I should give that a try.

That weekend I cleaned the rust off my mountain bike, bought some panniers and, the following Monday, left my car in the garage. I was hooked – no waiting in long lines, just continuous pedaling with only the occasional stop sign to interrupt my journey. In the time it normally took me to drive to work, I’d covered that same distance on my bike, had a shower, ate breakfast, and was at my desk working.

My daily round-trip commute is thirty kilometres, but that adds up fast, as I average around three to four thousand kilometres per year. The cost savings are impressive – not only do I buy and burn a lot less gasoline, there’s less wear-and-tear on my truck, and my vehicle insurance costs are lower. I ride year-round, rain or shine; the only time I don’t is when there is snow or ice on the road – luckily that’s a rare thing here on the Wet Coast. There aren’t a lot of separated bike lanes on my route to work, and not much in the way of paved shoulders, so I often end up riding on the road, with traffic – what author John Forrester calls a Vehicular Cyclist[1]. Unfortunately, at least once a week, I encounter a driver who tries to bully me make me fear for my safety.

My parents taught me to stand up to bullies, but that doesn’t mean I’ll physically engage someone wrapped in several thousand pounds of moving metal – that’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Confronting antagonists on the road is unwise (on several levels), so I tried penning letters and op-eds to the local newspaper, offering calm and well-reasoned arguments why certain drivers need to behave better. The few responses I did get (from drivers) were usually rants – short on facts and long on emotion – blaming Lycra-clad cyclists who run stop signs or don’t wear helmets for everything from traffic congestion to global warming to the imminent end of the world.

I decided to start chronicling these events. As the number of stories grew, it occurred to me that, besides being cathartic, they might have some social value. If I could get drivers to read them – see things from a cyclist’s perspective – perhaps they’d understand what it’s like to be a cyclist and maybe, just maybe, reflect on their driving behaviour. If I could accomplish that, the streets might be safer for cyclists and more pleasant for everyone.

I know – wishful thinking… but sometimes good things come from wishful thinking.

This book is a collection of my cycling stories and editorials, presented in the form of letters to specific drivers I’ve dealt with, and to the larger group in society who drive – whom I refer to as the Driving Nation.

* * *

You might wonder whether I’m qualified to write about this subject. After over twenty years of bike commuting, I’ve logged over 75,000 kilometres, worn out three bike frames and many chains, gear clusters, tires, and

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