I wish to provide some perspective from the cycling community, with regards to a recent editorial that appeared in your newspaper. The author, Mr Stoltz, expressed his frustrations with cyclists, the places we ride, the traffic delays we cause, and our perceived disregard for other motorists. While he was not outright rude, it was clear from his letter that he has little or no personal experience with bicycling and has never sought the viewpoint of anyone who does ride. While he was clearly knowledgeable regarding the rules for ‘sharing the road,’ the rules themselves do not tell the whole story. The rules are rules for a reason, and I’d like to shed some light on the implications associated with following (or not following!) those laws.

I know that I speak for cyclists throughout our city, when I say, that we share Mr. Stoltz’s frustration with the lack of adequate routes that are bicycle-friendly. Trust me when I say that, if we had the option of riding somewhere on a course dedicated solely to cyclists, we would! While there are some roads that have bicycle lanes, these are designed for more leisurely cycling. Those desiring a more challenging long-distance ride, or those training for races, would have to ride through these bustling areas literally hundreds of times to achieve the distance they wish to cover, not to mention the number of stops and starts due to stoplights, pedestrian crossings and other traffic guidelines to which cyclists are also subject. The reason that the highways Mr. Stoltz mentioned are popular with cyclists is because of the relatively light traffic, the excellent visibility and the good condition of the pavement. Those roads are all marked with signs to alert motorists to the likely presence of cyclists.

Mr. Stoltz was correct in stating that bicycles are vehicles and are entitled to be on the road. His suggestions however that we might be better suited for sidewalk travel is an uninformed one. Riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is dangerous for the cyclist, as well as for pedestrians using the walkway. The same goes for riding on or near the shoulder of the road, as the asphalt often grows increasingly unsafe as one approaches the outside edge. Furthermore, riding in the center of the lane, or just to the right of the center, makes us much more visible to approaching cars.

Perhaps the most inaccurate statement made by Mr. Stoltz was his comment about our disregard for other motorists and the delays we are causing them. While we don’t enjoy causing other motorists to have to slow down, the law does not require us to allow them to pass, although they are more than welcome to do so when conditions permit.

In order for motorists and cyclists to safely coexist, it’s important that motorists understand our perspective and why we enjoy this form of recreation. We ride because we enjoy the experience and the associated benefits to our health. However, our enjoyment does not come without some fear. We all know someone who knows someone who has been, sometimes even tragically, injured in a cycling accident. Given this knowledge we continue to ride, only because our perceived benefits of doing so outweigh our reservations. So, when you encounter a cyclist on the roadway, just know that we are every bit as uncomfortable about the chance meeting as you are. Try giving us a little nod to acknowledge that you see us. If you applaud our commitment to fitness, toot your horn and wave. If you support our desire for more suitable places to ride, tell your legislators. Whatever you do, just don’t tailgate us in hopes we’ll pull over!

EMAN MUSTANSAR,

Lahore, July 27.