Last month a friend was riding his bicycle on one of Lanark County’s quiet country roads and got hit by a car from behind. The driver didn’t even stop to help him. He was left in the ditch with a broken tibia and fractured back. The driver, after turning herself in to the police, claimed she thought she had hit a mailbox.
It’s always upsetting to hear about any cyclist being struck by a car. But when the injured person is someone you know, there’s a deeper shock, and a sense of frustration and anger. How is it that so many motorists just don’t seem to understand that cyclists, sitting unprotected atop their super-light road bikes, are completely vulnerable on the road?
The news of this accident spread quickly throughout the local cycling community. When Gillian Scobie, who writes for Women’s Cycling.ca, heard about it, she did more than just ask questions and vent her frustration. She thought about what could be done to bring more awareness to the general public and provide greater safety for people who cycle in the area.
With that goal in mind she wrote to the town’s mayor, encouraging the city’s town council to host a cycling awareness week to educate motorists about the rules of the road and safe driving practices around cyclists. A local reporter picked up the story and gave it more publicity. Now, a town councillor is encouraging Gillian to do a presentation at a council meeting suggesting what the county can to do protect local cyclists, for example raising driver awareness through share-the-road signage and local safety campaigns. Gillian will be giving a presentation early in the New Year and the cycling community will be there to support her.
From all of this I realize that when we hear about a cyclist being struck by a car the most important question is not, How did this happen? But, What can I do to help prevent it from happening to another cyclist?
By taking action, Gillian is doing her best to find a way to make cycling safer for all cyclists—creating something good from a terrible accident.