As a regular bike commuter in Surrey, I have written this open letter to Surrey motorists. I do not represent any organization or pressure group. I wrote this letter in a personal capacity.
Dear Surrey Motorist,
It seems like you don’t notice me so let me introduce myself. I am a cyclist. Sometimes you will see me late at night or early in the morning fully geared up and dressed for the occasion doing my 40-70 kilometer training run. But these days you’ll usually see me in traffic jams heading to work as a commuter. Well, I hope you’ll see me. My life depends on it!
I own two cars. They are “on the road”, insurance and taxes paid. But lately, even on cold, rainy days, I force myself to ride past them and get on my bike to work whenever I can. When I do this, certain things happen and those things motivate me to do it again and again.
Let me tell you about it.
When I cycle to work, I take up less than a quarter of the space one of my cars would have taken. As you know congestion is a huge problem in fast growing Surrey so it makes me happy to be part of the solution in this way.
When I move, I make almost no noise. In addition, I do not emit any toxic and polluting fumes into the atmosphere. I think we can enjoy every moment of calm and fresh air that we can find in a city, don’t you? (Of course, yes! You paid $50,000 for that Tesla, right?)
When I cycle I go very gently on the roads of Surrey. My bike has no potholes and hardly any road wear.
When I ride a bike, 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 away from doctor’s offices and hospitals so that people who need it more than me can get medical attention. My mental health also benefits, and I find I’m much more focused and productive when I cycle to work.
When I ride a bike, I slow down the hectic pace of life. I notice things and people in our community that I don’t see when driving a car.
Cycling saves me time. During peak hours, I travel nearby as fast as cars, and because my daily commute doubles my exercise time, I can spend more time with my family when I get home instead of going to the gym.
So, dear motorist, please acknowledge my presence and my right to be on the road. Respect the bike paths of our city. They don’t allow you to park and respond to a text, or wait while pushing to enter a lane.
As a motorist, a good 90% of the road is allocated to you, so taking a cyclist’s 10% is simply greedy and selfish. Also think how scary it would be if a vehicle 10 times bigger and faster than you cuts past you and generally ignores you, into a vehicle much safer, stronger and more powerful than yours. That’s how I feel when you cut me off or speed in my direction pretending you can’t see me despite my expensive bike lights, huge helmet and reflective jacket.
Look at cities around the world where people are choosing bicycles as their mode of transportation on a large scale. Cities like those in the Netherlands, Copenhagen and, recently, London. They are clean and popular. Their populations are on average healthier and their cities much safer.
Surrey cyclists are here to stay. We are an ever-growing minority. If you’re feeling too busy, important, or rich to join this tribe, that’s okay, but know that we’re only making your car ride better, cleaner, and less cluttered.
Recently, a Chilliwack woman who ran over a bicyclist with her car and injured him faced a civil lawsuit worth over $1 million. The court ruled in favor of the victim. Please be wise and learn to respect cyclists in the easiest and least painful way.
Sincerely, your friendly neighbor in Peddling Surrey,
Gabriel J. Snyman