President's Perspective: Share the Road

From Issue: 
October 2016

On September 1, 2016, a cyclist in Ottawa was struck and killed at an intersection. 

A Toronto cyclist lost his life on July 5, 2016, after swerving to avoid a turning van and colliding with a parked car.

In Victoria, a cyclist was struck and killed by a turning delivery truck on March 29.

On July 26, 2016, a Halifax cyclist collided with a pickup truck and later died in hospital.

Do you see a trend? According to Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics, approximately 65 cyclists die annually on Canadian streets. There’s a reason why cyclists are encompassed in the term ‘vulnerable road users,’ and this is it.  

Unfortunately, as with a lot of contentious issues, the topic of reducing fatalities isn’t easily resolved. For instance, attempts by municipalities to introduce bicycle lanes have been met with questions surrounding the infrastructure use and the wisdom of putting a lane to the right of an existing lane used for right-turns, thereby creating a cross-pattern with both vehicles under some parts of provincial highway acts having some form of right-of-way.

There is one step we can all take to help reduce those sobering statistics, though: share the road.

As a motorist, cyclist, motorcyclist, pedestrian or other road user, it’s our duty to follow the rules of the road. In many cases, collisions occur because drivers are not aware of their surroundings or cyclists are not obeying road signage or signalling their intentions. 

A lack of predictability and deliberateness can make the difference between a collision and a near-miss. The responsibility to keep our roads safe and accessible to all falls as much on the motorists as it does on other vulnerable road users. 

This includes stopping for traffic lights, obeying road signage, using turn signals or arm signals, obeying the rules regarding right-of-way and being courteous.

Motorists need to be conscientious of the space surrounding a cyclist. Many municipalities have regulations requiring a minimum of one metre of distance between a bicycle and a vehicle. Personally, I tend to give cyclists as wide a berth as I can without infringing on other vehicles’ space. 

Cyclists need to avoid riding on sidewalks, as well. While this may put them at less risk from motorists, it also puts pedestrians at a much higher risk of collision – not to mention the fact that it’s illegal in many provinces.

The key in all this is cooperation. We all want to arrive to our destinations safely, happily and in one piece. Let’s all do our part to help each other out.

Safety, it’s an attitude!