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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jennifer Aniston and bicycle versus car

What does Jennifer Aniston have to do with this, you ask? Before you accuse me of using a picture of a big star like Jen to get your attention, let me explain. Jennifer was a bicycle courier in New York City in her younger days. “The toughest job I had was being a bike messenger in New York City,” Jen once said. “I was 19. My lowest moment was probably driving into a door that opened. I’m very uncoordinated and extraordinarily klutzy.” I was a bike courier as well a long time ago in Toronto, but that’s all me and Jen have in common. Certainly not well toned and tanned bodies. That’s the reason for using the picture of Jen’s body instead of mine.

I survived a couple of years on the mean streets of downtown TO and was lucky to only go down twice without hitting anything. As a general rule most bicycle couriers hate drivers and most drivers hate bicycle couriers. I’m fortunate to have spent some pro time on a bicycle seat and about 15 years of pro time behind the wheel of cars and trucks. It gives me a unique perspective on the bicycle-car wars.
Cyclists hate drivers because of their inattention in traffic and because some of the seemingly trivial maneuvers they perform are so dangerous to riders. Turning and changing lanes without signaling, cutting off, failing to yield the right of way – the list goes on. Opening the car’s door into traffic (the way Ms Aniston was victimized) is a very common error we used to call a “door prize”. It is clearly stated in the HTA that you are not allowed to do this, yet most drivers do it without giving it a second thought all the time. Taxicab passengers and drivers are particularly prone to this. Taxis are also notorious for making u-turns and abrupt stops without giving any consideration to surrounding traffic. That’s why all bicycle messengers have a very special hatred reserved deep in their hearts just for taxicabs.
Drivers hate bicycle riders (especially couriers) because of their complete disregard for the rules of the road. They switch from being a pedestrian, to being a bike rider, to a full “vehicle” with the right to take an entire lane at any time. There is very little we can do about it. Bicycles simply don’t fit very well in traffic. They don’t belong with fast moving cars on the road (that’s way they’re banned completely on limited access highways) and they don’t belong on sidewalks, except maybe when ridden very slowly. Of course we have to demand some accountability from bicycle riders, but asking them to come to a “complete stop” at every stop sign is just silly. I’m afraid that apart from building more bike paths, we’ll have to live with the status quo.


  1. the title works. nice article, Carguru.

  2. I do a multi-modal commute - part by car, and part by the folding bike I keep in my trunk. I try to be aware of cyclists when I'm driving, and obey road rules when I'm cycling. It doesn't always work out the way I'd like it to, since not everyone else is doing it too - both sides are going to have to make changes in order for there to be any kind of progress towards safety.