One seat belt, four blinkers, a windshield, and two wheels. Meet the bike-car. You may be seeing a lot of them in the upcoming months.
If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes in Waterloo you know we are a city of cyclists. Students too poor for a car and too proud for the bus are forced to pedal their way to the grocery store. Even fully-grown self-supporting adults often choose to bike to work rather than drive. It is this type of healthy, environmentally conscious decision that is turning our once harmonious city into a cesspool of spandex and road rage.
According to reports estimated in 2012, the Kitchener-Waterloo area is home to 112,049 regular cyclists. Cyclists, not to be confused with “bikers”, are defined as those who ride a self-propelled, two-wheeled apparatus to and from various destinations. Approximately 10% of all regular cyclists in the area belong to the Waterloo Cycling Association, which meets weekly to share tips on diverse cycling issues. Most recently, topics ranged from where to buy affordable balaclavas and how to roll over black ice. The Honk received a tip earlier this week of an upcoming yearly spandex swap.
However, cycling in Waterloo is no walk in the park. There have been numerous complaints in the past 6 months – from cyclists and, more importantly, from drivers. Cyclists have raised concerns about a lack of bike paths on sections of busy streets – notably Westmount South and King Street – and have suggested that this oversight is a triple-threat danger to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Drivers on the other hand say that cyclists “always clog the streets,” “ruin the aesthetic appeal of my drive to work,” “are always f***ing in my way,” and receive the “unfair advantage” of pedestrian travel laws and car travel laws.
“Enough is enough!” says one anonymous angry driver. “Cyclists are taking over the streets. That’s why we started the new bike-car bylaw.” If all goes as planned, all Waterloo cyclists will have to convert their bicycles into bike-cars by April 2013.
At the Preliminary Bylaw Acquisition on January 14th, a majority vote of 67% pushed the bylaw forward for further consideration. Unfortunately, only 3 citizens were in attendance that evening. Forty-six members of the Waterloo Cycling Association had planned to attend, but arrived late after attempting an inefficient route which avoided non-bike path zones of Waterloo.
Veteran cyclist Sam Rolaand spoke out against the bike-car bylaw. He’s quite sure a seat belt would not help anyone during a cycling accident. “Maybe instead of trying to make bicycles more like cars the city should just create more bike paths in Kitchener and Waterloo.”
“Maybe Sam should buckle-up, and realize who really owns the streets of this city” was the response of Waterloo’s anonymous angry driver.
Mr. Rolaand will have to buckle-up if he plans to choose cycling as his main transportation method post-April. Although no proper bike-cars have been tested yet, Honk Analysts predict that the extra weight and wind resistance of the mandatory windshield will force most cyclists to add small motors to their vehicles.
There is also talk of a new bylaw requiring pedestrians to wear helmets and high-visibility jackets while crossing busy streets.
Waterloo Honk wants to know: How early is too early to convert to a bike-car?