Region addresses cyclist responsibility

(Photo by Samantha Kellerman)

Avid cyclist Ryan Fox can remember the events of his biking accident back in 2010 like it was yesterday. Though he survived his injuries, his regret haunts him every time he gets on his bike.

“I always go back to that day and wish that I had been more assertive and smart while biking on the road,” Fox shared.

“I shouldn’t have been riding on the wrong side of the road, I should’ve known better than that. That one mistake almost got me killed. I just never thought it would happen to me; I’ve always been biking and I didn’t see it coming.”

Fox is part of a 60 per cent statistic that names riding on the wrong side of the road as a contributing factor of bike collisions.

Other statistics have shown that riding on sidewalks and through cross walks is a factor in 86 per cent of collisions involving bikes in Waterloo Region, according to a 2010 study created by the University of Waterloo.

To educate cyclists about their responsibilities and the growing concerns about collisions from the community, the Region of Waterloo has launched the Happy Cycling Campaign.

“It’s really just an opportunity to take things in a new light and celebrate cyclists with cycling,” said James LaPointe, principal planner for the transportation demand management at the Region of Waterloo.

“We’ve heard back from the community about some of the issues that are facing cyclists on a day-to-day basis and we’re trying to focus this campaign by addressing those concerns and come out with a program that can look at the factors of collisions and give a more positive reinforcement.”

LaPointe stressed that a lot of individuals who are cyclists are also drivers. This leads the cyclist to not realize that they share the same rules and responsibilities when sharing the road with vehicles.

However, there is an assumption from some cyclists that because they do not need a license to bike, the rules of driving do not apply.

“What that means is that people may not expect that they have to follow the same rules and predictable behaviours as drivers,” LaPointe addressed.

“What we’re finding is that cyclists are riding in the wrong direction on a roadway or they’re riding on the sidewalks, which is illegal in Waterloo Region. What we’re trying to do is correct those behaviours by educating cyclists on the right ways to cycle and give them an opportunity to see that.”

The causes of bike collisions also include cyclists not letting the drivers know what they are doing by not signaling properly.

After gaining the courage to get back on his bike, Fox began to notice the recklessness of cyclists around him.

“After my accident, I began to notice that a lot of cyclists wouldn’t let other cars know when they were turning, and I’d see a lot of near accidents happen,” Fox shared.

“I don’t think cyclists realize that the need to be predictable in a car still applies on a bike. I learned my lesson the hard way and I hope other riders do as well.”

Volunteers with the Happy Cycling Campaign will be giving prizes to cyclists who are riding safely.

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