As a regular bicycle commuter in Surrey, I wrote this open letter to motorists of Surrey. I represent no organization or lobby group. I wrote this letter in my personal capacity.
Dear Surrey Motorist,
It doesn’t seem like you notice me so let me introduce myself. I am a cyclist. Sometimes you will see me late evenings or early mornings all geared up and dressed for the occasion doing my 40- to 70-kilometre training ride. But nowadays you will usually see me in peak traffic heading to work as a commuter. Well, hopefully you will see me. My life depends on it!
I do own two cars. They are “on the road,” insurance and taxes paid up. But lately, even on cold and rainy days, I force myself to walk past them and get on my bike to go to work whenever I can. When I do that, a few things happen and these things motivates me to do it again and again.
Let me tell you about them.
When I cycle to work, I take up less than a quarter of the space one of my cars would have taken up. As you know, congestion is a huge problem in the fast-growing Surrey, so it gives me joy to be part of the solution in this way.
When I commute, I make almost no noise. Also, I emit no poisonous and polluting fumes into the atmosphere. I think we can do with every bit of quiet and fresh air we can get in a city, don’t you? (of course, you do! You paid $50,000 for that Tesla, didn’t you?)
When I cycle, I go real easy on the roads of Surrey. My bicycle does not calve out pot holes and puts hardly any wear and tear on the road.
When I cycle, I improve my health and well-being in so many ways. It improves my blood pressure, heart rate, body weight and lung capacity. All of these things keep me out of the doctor’s offices and hospitals so that people that need it more than I do could get medical attention. My mental health also benefits from this, and I find that I am way more focused and productive when I have cycled to work.
When I cycle, I slow down the hectic pace of life. I notice things and people in our community I don’t when I am driving a car.
Cycling saves me time. In peak traffic, I travel close as fast as cars do and because my commute doubles as my exercise time, I can spend more time with my family when I get home in stead of visiting the gym.
So, dear motorist, please acknowledge my presence and right to be on the road. Respect the bike lanes of our city. They are not for you to park and reply to a text message, nor to wait in while pushing to get into a lane.
As a motorist, a good 90 percent of the road is allocated to you, so to take up a cyclist’s 10 per cent is plain greedy and selfish. Think also how scary it would be if a vehicle 10 times your vehicle’s size and speed cuts in front of you and generally disregards you, in a vehicle that is much safer, stronger and more powerful than yours. This is how I feel when you cut me off or speed in my direction pretending you don’t see me despite my expensive bike lights, huge helmet and reflective jacket.
Look at cities around the world where people choose bicycles as transport on a large scale. Cities like those in the Netherlands, Copenhagen and, recently, London. They are clean and popular. Their populations are healthier on average and their cities much safer.
The cyclists of Surrey are here to stay. We are an ever-growing minority. If you feel you are too busy, important, or rich to join this tribe, that is OK, but please know that we only make your commute by car better, cleaner and less congested.
Recently a woman in Chilliwack, who took a cyclist down with her car and injured him, faced a civil suit of over a million dollars. The court ruled in the victim’s favour. Please be wise and learn to respect cyclists the easier and less painful way.
Regards, your Friendly Peddling Surrey Neighbour,
Gabriel J. Snyman