Editor’s note: This article uses the pronoun ‘it’ to refer to a person – as that is the preference of the person.
At the end of March, Tamias was riding its bike when it was nearly struck by a pickup truck.
It was Tamias’ first time heading to the Freestore since it reopened this year – it was going to get new shoes for its child, Dera.
Tamias had the child-trailer in tow behind its bike, but fortunately not Dera. The trailer was just for cargo this time – usually if it has the trailer in tow, it has a child on board.
Cyclist nearly struck by pickup
On its way home, Tamias was rounding the horse field, heading to Manson’s, when it noticed a pick-up approaching from behind. Tamias remembers thinking that from its position, it would be able to make it up to the motel, a safe spot to pass, before the vehicle overtook it. The truck caught up faster than expected and was right behind Tamias as it rounded the last corner before the last hill to the motel. From the corner, it could see a smaller white car coming in the oncoming lane. Then, the pickup began to pass on the left, on this blind corner, on a collision course with the car.
Tamias’ memory is blurry from this point, but it seems that both vehicles were able to come to a stop before impact. Tamias had thought for sure that the pickup would have to swerve into it’s lane to prevent a big crash, but calamity was avoided. Tamias was super scared.By the time Tamias recovered from the shock and terror – the vehicles had left the scene.
Tamias didn’t feel fit to ride any further, given the emotional upset.
It sat in the field across from the motel and cried for about 1/2 an hour. Ten cars passed without checking in with Tamias. Eventually Sonya Friessen passed by, and realized that something was wrong
and came to check on Tamias.
Second near accident
After some time, Tamias carried on, having been comforted by Sonya, in order to meet Dera in time to relieve Dera’s caretaker.
Then, on the way, another vehicle passed it on the hill just before Manson’s Landing as one is coming up from the lagoon. Tamias says this is also a spot of poor visibility. From there, Tamias walked – having been re-traumatized.
Reaching out to the drivers
Tamias considered the option of reporting the incident to the police, but thought that inviting a conversation with the driver would be more restorative, and less punitive.
So it posted a description of the event on cortesisland.com along with an invitation to discuss it. Tamias got five responses from its tideline posting – including one suggesting Tamias stay as close to the edge of the road as possible, another suggesting that it take the middle of the lane to dissuade drivers from passing, and another describing the effort to change the law on what is legal for cyclists and passing — but no response from either driver.
Cycling on Cortes Island Roads
Tamias has been able to heal its own wounds, somewhat, and has gotten back into short trips on its bike.
It says that the ebike gives Tamias the range physically, but mentally it can’t yet handle the emotional endurance of getting to Whaletown. When Tamias rode a regular bike, the effort provided a distraction and resulted in physical exhaustion before mental exhaustion.
Most of Tamias’ riding happens where the road is wide enough to pull over, between Smelt Bay and Manson’s. Tamias does pull over immediately when a vehicle approaches, if possible. But much of
Cortes doesn’t have the space for a vehicle to pass, or for a bike to effectively get off the road.
Tamias would like drivers to trust that it will pull over at the nearest spot where there’s room and space to pull over, then they might have the patience to wait until it’s safe to pass.
Tamias is interested in mounting a ‘dash-cam’ on its bike to record any similar experiences in the future. “It might give some more power to cyclists”.
Tamias doesn’t have a very good description of the vehicles involved – one a grey or blue pickup, the other a white small car.
Invitation for the drivers
If you were driving one these vehicles and recognize the description of the event, you’re still invited to get in touch with Tamias to debrief. Tamias can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cortes Currents did some research to understand the legal context around this incident, and cyclists best-practices.
According to the BC Cycling Coalition, “The law requires traffic moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to keep as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway, but that does not mean hugging the curb or edge of the road. You always need some extra space to manoeuvre around road hazards without running the risk of hitting the curb or going off the edge of the road. This allows you to move away from traffic instead of directly into traffic in the event of an emergency manoeuvre. Motorists are required to pass “at a safe distance” and must not return to the right of the roadway until they have fully passed you. As a general rule, ride approximately one metre from the curb.”
Links of interest:
- (BC Cycling Coalition) Cycling & Traffic Skills
- The BC Cycling Coalition website
- (Cortes Currents) Cycling on Cortes Island
- (Cortes Currents) Cortes Island e-Bikes
Top photo credit: Bike with trailer by David Ardron via Flickr (CC BYSA, 2.0 License)
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