After some media in the MUN Gazette and on CBC related to BikeMaps.org I received this email from a female cyclist in St. John’s. I asked if I could anonymously share her message. Harassment and sexual harassment of female cyclists must be addressed in St. John’s other cities. Infrastructure is only part of the answer.
I was reading the article on the CBC and felt that I needed to write you. I am an commuter cyclist and recently I have gotten into triathlons. My husband also commutes and my child wants to start cycling to school when the weather breaks. I have so many near misses over the years! Two years ago I had a guy empty his ashtray in my face on Ropewalk Lane. I had 4 near misses this past summer. I was forced off my bike when someone pulled out of a gas station causing me to either hit them or fall over. Someone else pulled in their driveway cutting me off. Another pulled a 3 point turn without looking causing me to hit their side. Lastly, I was close to doored on Pennywell road. But none of these stop me from cycling.
What has really affected me cycling has been the cat calling and comments about my body. The young men hanging out their window to take a picture of my spandex clad behind. The yelling about what they would do if I agreed to “ride” them. I have never experienced the harassment in all my years of running and cycling as i did this past summer. These experiences make me choose a different route, change my cycling gear and make me not want to ride. I know your research is in making cycling safe and I love the idea of separate bike lanes, and I use the bike lanes all the time and I hope to see more. But safety is both physical and emotional. But my two cents would be cycling corridors established using existing walking trails that are away from the roads. Cutting down both on harassment and car accidents. After an especially bad run of harassment I add extra kilometres to my ride by using walking trails but I don’t get any cat calls or any problems with cars for most of my ride.
Thank you for coming forward with this comment. I hope it can start a conversation about safe cycling in St. John’s.