If you’re a cyclist anywhere in North America, chances are your province, or state, is not looking out for your safety. In the province of Ontario, where I live, cycling is so unsafe that it’s gaining a reputation as the province that “ hates cyclists”.
- A 64-year-old cyclist killed when hit by a truck just north of Brigden, near Sarnia.
- In the North York area of Toronto a 50-year-old cyclist had the right of way going into an intersection around 8 a.m. on a weekday morning. A left-turning motorist slammed into him, tossing him several metres. He died at the scene of the accident.
- A cycling enthusiast and tri-athlete from Ottawa was killed after being struck from behind by a pickup truck. She was 27 years old.
The list goes on and on. This year in Ontario 15 people have been killed on a bike by motorists. Thousands more have been injured.
In 2004, 3,597 motor-vehicles in Ontario were in collisions with bicycles. Cyclists are 7 to 70 times more likely to be injured per trip or per kilometer traveled than car occupants.
The bottom line is that Ontario roads are unsafe for cyclists.
How safe is cycling in your area? It’s time for cyclists everywhere to speak up and insist that governments make the roads safe for bicycles. This won’t happen if you wait for someone else to do it. It’s up to each and every one of us to take action. Write a letter to the premier of your province, or the governor of your state, today. Encourage other cyclists to do the same. Do it now!
Here are a few of the changes cyclists need across North America:
- A policy that requires municipal governments to install a proper cycling infrastructure in all towns and cities
- 4 foot wide paved shoulders on rural, 2-lane roads and all secondary highways
- A “Safe Passing” law, 3 feet minimum. (This is already in the Drivers Handbook for Ontario but not yet in legislation)
- Increased punishments for hurting/killing a cyclist with car under all circumstances
- Advertising in all media to educate motorists about sharing the roads safely with cyclists
- Change in the insurance laws so that cyclists don’t bear the costs in crashes and collisions
- Forbid car parking in bike lanes, similar to what has been done for handicapped parking
- Force all cities to include bike parking and infrastructure in its planning, ie “complete streets,” all new developments with included minimum bike parking requirements
- Include a comprehensive module on cycling in driver’s education for all classes of drivers
- Provide funding for cycling education programs for kids, and making it part of the education curriculum, (like CAN-BIKE)
- Remove habitually unsafe drivers from the road permanently, including repeat drunk driving offenders and people who drive without license/insurance (i.e. “Greg’s law” from Eleanor McMahon)
If you don’t have the time to write a letter here is a template. Just copy and paste it into a word program, fill in the blanks and send it the premier/governor of your province/state.