Bouts of terrible weather notwithstanding, the snow and cold have finally dissipated and allowed the active members of Western to ride their bicycles to campus. And by “ride their bicycles to campus,” I mean “endlessly weave through crowds of slow, vulnerable people who insist on walking on the bike paths.”
One would think the giant, white stencils of bicycles painted on the ground would be enough to—at the very least—get people to be aware of their surroundings, but this is not the case. In fact, people seem to view these bike paths as sidewalks for slow-moving groups of pedestrians.
Not only do pedestrians feel the need to saunter along these paths, blindly unaware of their surroundings, but the added width of the second lane allows them to do so in large groups that completely cut off any possible passing lanes.
Not everyone has the luxury of living right on the edges of campus, and there is nothing more frustrating than riding uphill from downtown London, only to be confronted with the cliff that is University College hill. After hopelessly shifting down to first gear and putting in full effort, everything is for naught, as the lane is clogged up by a group of people oblivious to the presence of a biker behind them.
Imagine the scenario from my point of view. I try to ring my bell to notify them of my presence. Except I don’t have a bell, or the minimal funds it takes to buy one. There is no way pass them. The curb looms on the left of the path, and a concrete barrier separates a congested lane of cars on the right. A sad, dismounting biker stands in the middle.
The bitter reality that these hordes of people represent is the fact that every bike path on campus has a sidewalk immediately adjacent to it.
Even when ignoring the people who walk down the bike path, the people who cross the bike path cause just as much trouble. The very people who worry about getting hit by a car when jaywalking will blindly step into a bike path without a moment of hesitation.
Whipping down UC hill towards a green light—an exhilarating experience—becomes terrible when a person using their headphones to shelter themselves from the sounds of the outside world steps directly into the path of your speeding bike. Excitement quickly turns into fear as the biker is forced to weave around this new obstacle.
For some reason, people refuse to show respect to a large hunk of metal potentially speeding towards them at over 40 kilometres per hour. One would think that people would not want to risk getting into a crash, based solely on the fact that an object is powered by humans, rather than by electricity. As someone who has been hit by a bike before, trust me—it hurts. A lot.
So, for those of you who have not gotten the message yet—stop walking in the bike lanes. Stop it. You wouldn’t walk in the middle of the road, so why are you doing this? Stop it.