It was the type of incident you wanted to turn away from, but couldn’t.
Monday’s story of a feces-throwing cyclist, following a collision on Yates and Cook streets, brought attention to the number of scofflaw cyclists in Victoria. In this case, the cyclist pulled down his pants and managed to defecate. It’s believed the woman had locked herself in the car.
The cyclist remounts his E-bike and gracefully departs southbound on Cook without pedalling. Even if the driver was at fault in this incident (that has yet to be declared), the cyclist’s behaviour is clearly not a civil one. (Questions abound as to how he was able to move one on demand.)
Extreme as it is, it’s a scenario the regular cycling community refers to as that of a scofflaw cyclist, a label for those who ignore the rules of the road, such as riding against one-way traffic and on sidewalks.
It’s also a scenario that could easily be avoided. ICBC reports an average of 360 cyclists involved in motor vehicle incidents
“Most bad behaviour of cyclists is caused by poor infrastructure,” said Ed Pullman of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. “How many people ride on the sidewalk on Fort and Pandora now [that there’s bike lanes]? Infrastructure will solve a lot of problems. Look at Netherlands. They have one of the highest driver satisfaction rates according to waze.com.”
In other words, the number of aggressive incidents between cyclist and motorist is dramatically reduced where cyclists have their own lanes.
It’s a good time to be reminded that there are dangerous drivers and dangerous cyclists yet it’s the dangerous drivers who represent a much bigger threat to public safety, Pullman said.
There is also a danger in labelling scofflaw cyclists as it stigmatizes some of Victoria’s most vulnerable.
“There is an element of the downtown street community that flaunts cycling laws and norms, but much like handing out jaywalking tickets, you’re just criminalizing poverty,” Pullman said. “They won’t be able to pay them, the outstanding ticket turns into a warrant, eventually.”