Riding a bike that is not in a dedicated bike lane means you are accepting some element of risk but it also means that drivers must follow the Motor Vehicle Act and recognize that all active transportation users have the right to use the road. The Huffington Post reports on an unfortunate incident that has already garnered over three hundred comments by readers. An Ontario journalist named Alex Pierson was  driving to work and took a photo of  a cyclist arduously riding through slush ahead of her car. The journalist posted the photo on Facebook with the following admonishment~”You have to be a real knob to ride a bike on a day like this”.
Now when I first read this I could not understand what she meant, thinking that the cyclist was brave and prudently riding  in winter Ontario conditions. But the Ottawa Police tweeted back, clearly showing that the journalist was, well, being a knob. Responding to Ms. Pierson the Ottawa Police tweeted: “Bicycles have every right to be on the road all year round. For many, it’s their only mode of transportation. Give them room. If you don’t have room to give them at least 1 metre of distance, wait until you do before you go around them.”

Instead of using this as a learning opportunity to treat cyclists the same way she would treat other vehicles on the road and give them clearance and headway, Ms. Pierson  responded “ There is no room on the road when the snow isn’t cleared. That’s why it’s so foolish.

Kudos to the Ottawa Police for not taking any of this attitude and again reminding Ms. Pierson “There is room. You just have to wait for an opportunity to go around”.
It is pretty clear and the information is available on the Ottawa Police website that cyclists are to be given the same courtesy as any other vehicle, and that extra space should be given to them when there is slippery road conditions. They can also occupy any part of the lane. The surprise of this is that a journalist would leave these unfortunate tweets up and then challenge the Ottawa Police on what she believes is her rights as a motorist. But it again points out the need for increased education and enforcement for shared road space, and the desperate need for separated snow cleared bicycle facilities  to stay away from such enfranchised motorists that purport to be right.
Cyclist commutes in snow on Richmond Street.


  1. This is such classism on the journalist’s part. Someone with motorist privilege judging someone else who is merely being resourceful with the means they have.
    The idea that there’s “no room” really shows her classism. If there was someone driving a car in front of her would that person be a knob? Besides, it looks like a six lane road so plenty of room when behind a slow-poke (in any mode) to just change lanes.
    The story says that it is slush. Therefore any good tires will do. They have fenders. It’s all good. I know people who bike at -40º and it’s fine.

  2. It is ironic that the driver was breaking the law by taking a pic in a handheld device which is illegal, even when the vehicle is stopped at a red light. She even lied about this. I am glad that the Ottawa Police chimed in, but the tragedy is that the driver did not absorb this educational moment.

  3. Amazing the restraint evinced towards Ms Alex Pierson.
    Maybe we owe her for her douchery (taking a page out of her ignorant sexist rant), calling this intrepid cyclist a knob; bringing to light how entitled many (most) motorists feel. There’s a recent book: ‘Roads were not built for cars’ – great illustrations – a must read.
    She is like the late, unlamented by cyclists, browbeating, Escalade-cruising Rob Ford – whose words were similar, but referencing a different part of the anatomy. He called them (us) “a pain in the …”
    To continue with Ms Pierson, who has made a living with words and chooses them carefully, here’s one for you:
    -deleted as per editorial policy`
    This is a similar four-letter message
    From this knob to you.
    … and she should be charged for use of a handheld device while driving (the evidence is there), as well as for lying to police.
    If you think she hates cyclists now … hell hath no fury like a woman scorned … by a cyclist knob.

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