Tuesday, May 09, 2006

North Shore Truck Driving "School"

I sent this letter to North Shore Driving School this morning in response to a close call I had with one of it's charges.

Dear Sir or Madam
I would like to report an incident that I believe was dangerous and uncalled for.

This morning as I was riding my bike into work I was passed by one of your trucks just north of 1st avenue and Renfrew st at around 8:00 am going southbound. I heard the truck coming and thought that it would change lanes and pass me -- as the law states. The truck did not change lanes but it did pass me in the curb lane. As the cab came by I was forced to move to my right, into the door zone of the parked cars. I could have reached out and touched your truck at any time during it's passing me. At one point the rear wheels of the trailer were less than 30 cm from my handle bars. As the truck came to a stop I rolled up beside it and asked the driving instructor not to pass cyclists so close in the future and to ask his charge to do the same. The reply from you instructor was that I "was to move as far to the right as I could" and "what are we supposed to do?" I stated that he, as the driver of a truck, was to give me, a cyclist, the same care and attention he would give any road user, and that he "should have changed lanes to pass me." At that point the light changed to green and we were off again. This time I took more of the lane that was my right to have and your truck did not pass me again.

I guess I am worried for a number of reasons. First of all there have been a number of cyclists being killed by trucks, in Toronto alone there have been 6 this year. Secondly, this was a driving school truck, so there must have been some sort of instruction taking place. What worries me is that the instructor didn't seem to think it was a problem passing a cyclist in the same lane. So therefore he is not teaching proper road etiquette of for that matter following the law. If he is not teaching this student properly, how many others were improperly taught? Finally, it would seem that even though I have 25 years of cycling experience, I am still vulnerable to bad drivers, but more frightening is the thought of a novice cyclist being in the situation that I was in this morning. How would a less experienced cyclist have dealt with the situation? Would he/she have swerved into the wheels of the truck or into a parked car on the side of the road?

Trucks take up a whole lane, I don't think you will argue with that. Cyclists take up part of a lane, you probably won't argue with that either. So why was a truck and a bike in the same lane? It wasn't wide enough for both of us. I was at a disadvantage in terms of size. It was scary.

One final thought. Do any of your drivers ride a bike? It would be an interesting eye opener for them to commute to work by bike for a week.

Please, please, please teach your operators not to share a lane with a bike it is just too dangerous



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