Cycling is usually a relaxing and peaceful experience. Those who get out for a ride on a sunny day will enjoy fresh air and sunshine, in most cases, along with their exercise. Some may be riding to reduce their carbon emissions and others are looking for exercise and fitness.
Dave is out for the first ride of spring on his carbon fibre road bike. Its a racer model, although he's not a racer himself, but he loves the beauty of riding on country roads. He's got a camera mounted on his helmet and he's excited about this first chance to get out and test the legs for 50km (30 miles) in the saddle.
Dave is looking down the road and then at the fields and he notices the oncoming traffic. There's a line of cars and trucks and they've just come around a curve. There is a long, straight stretch just behind Dave and one of the cars is passing a big dump truck. The driver has cut it close enough to cause concern, but no more. He gets back in his own lane without a problem. But the driver of the pickup truck behind the car has a very different opinion on safety. He is not content to tuck in behind the car as he should when the oncoming lane is occupied.
Dave is up against the right edge of the road but his tires are too skinny to allow him to pull onto the gravel at this speed. He knows that they will dig in and he could go over the handlebars. He might even end up sprawled out on the road and under the wheels of any of the vehicles coming at him. This is a road cyclist's nightmare. He looks at the gravel but he knows it's wet and loose this time of year.
Dave holds on and watches in disbelief as the truck continues to accelerate and comes right towards him. The driver looks at him but takes the chance on making his pass. Luckily, the driver of the white car seems to see the trouble and he moves to the right edge of the road, allowing a little more room. Even the dump truck driver seems worried and he touches the gravel shoulder.
The truck is going faster than the 80km/h (50mph) speed limit as it passes within about 30cm (1 foot) of Dave. The combined speed of the truck and the bike could be over 130km/h (almost 80mph) and impact at this speed would almost certainly be fatal. Dave knows that he can take his chances on the gravel at the very last second if he times it properly and he's ready to swerve and try to throw himself to the right and into the ditch. But he decides that it's less risky to hug the line to the right and stay upright. Luckily, the truck passes and does not hit him.
The wind from the truck and the sensation of it going past so closely was extremely terrifying for the cyclist. The driver of the truck will likely not even understand how dangerous it is to pass like this. He would never complete such a move if he were to be as close to another motor vehicle. It's somehow different with cyclists, it seems. Perhaps he just assumed that Dave should get off the road and out of his way.
In Ontario, and likely all places in North America, bicycles have the right to be on the road. They are a vehicle under the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario, and entitled to a full lane for travel, although they are also required to travel on the right side of the road. Cyclists have the same right of way as a car and they enjoy the same protection from being forced off the road during an unsafe pass such as this. There is no doubt that this cyclist was acting lawfully and the driver of the truck was not. Dave pulled over carefully after this incident and his camera catches a view of the tiny tires on the bike. They are not meant for riding on gravel shoulders. It is unsafe to even try.
When out for a drive, remembering that cyclists have a right to share the road will make it safer for all.