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Speak Up For Cycling: Your Voice Is Urgently Needed!

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”.

Consider this:

  • 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.

-Laurel-Lea Shannon

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18 comments to Speak Up For Cycling: Your Voice Is Urgently Needed!

  • Bill

    I agree that a lot (in fact most) cyclists do not obey traffic laws completely. I am an avid cyclist who tries very hard to obey all traffic laws at all times. Just like automobile drivers, I will take small risks when I feel it is safe to do so. In the city I live in, it is a very rare occasion that I don’t get yelled at for being on the road and taking my lane when necessary. More often than not, I am “buzzed” by a motorist who just can’t wait to pass me in MY lane!

    I understand the frustration motorists feel when cyclists do not respect traffic laws, but is that a good reason to put the cyclists life in danger??????

    A ridiculous argument if I’ve ever heard one…

  • Guest

    I see my last comment was deleted- any reason why? Is it because you don’t have an answer and can’t deny that it is not possible to give 3 feet of clearance while passing in the same lane as a cyclist?

  • Guest

    Also it is not the same as being behind a vehicle that you can’t pass because obviously cyclists are slower than cars. Just to clarify my last comment was refering to passing in the same lane as the cyclist which as I said is not possible to do with giving 3 feet of clearance when traffic in the adjacent lane is full.

  • Guest

    You’re missing the point- what if the adjacent lane is full, it is not possible to pass and give 3 feet of clearance. I have encountered this numerous times during rush hour, I could pass but definetly not with 3 feet of clearance- in fact I was too close to the adjacent lane.

  • Guest

    As for the purposed 3 feet law- how is it possible for vehicles to pass a cyclist and give 3 feet of clearance- some lanes are as narrow as 9ft and it is not 3 feet from the curb it’s 3 feet from the cyclist. Are we suppost to just stay behind a cyclist the whole time?

    • LS

      It’s really not that complicated. You slow down and when it’s safe to pass the cyclist you pull into the other lane (just as you would if you were passing another vehicle) allowing a minimum of 3 feet between your car and their bike.

  • Guest

    How about educating cyclists on the rules of the road. I have seen many violations such as riding side by side, not stopping at stop signs/lights, riding too far from the curb, etc. If cyclists want motorists to get educated and treat them with respect then they have to do the same too.

    • LS

      It’s true that cyclists need to know the rules of the road. But many motorists don’t understand that bicycles have the same right to the road as a car. Most cyclists will ride close to the curb providing that the road surface near the curb is safe to ride on. Often this is the part of the road that’s full of potholes and bumpy pavement, which can cause a fall. Where the road isn’t safe, a cyclist is allowed by law, to take the lane, and ride where it is safe for them. It’s also important for motorists to understand that they are in a two-tonne vehicle surrounded by steel. A cyclist has nothing but fresh air between her and the pavement. Even a slight bump from a car can kill a cyclist. So the onus is on the motorist to slow down and drive carefully around a cyclist. Remember, the cyclist you’re raving at is a person, with a family and loved ones, not an obstacle on the road.

  • June Martin-Jardine

    Reading the 24H newspaper today seeing about the proposed bill I feel I MUST comment that it is “a 2 way street”, no pun intended.

    As a driver in downtown Toronto, I can count on 1,maybe 2 hands the number of cyclists I see who use hand signals, how stop at stop signs or lights!!

    If we are to be more aware and GIVE WAY, maybe cyclists should be reminded that if they ride the road, they should OBEY the road rules….

    • LS

      Yes, cyclists also need to learn the rules of the road. I’m often quite shocked by the dangerous things I see cyclists and motorists do on the road. By law, a bicycle should always come to a complete stop at stop signs and lights. There are fines if they do not. However, many motorists don’t understand that cyclists who are on road bikes have shoes that are clipped into the pedals. Unclipping and stopping and then clipping in and starting up again is one of the most unstable parts of cycling. The state of Idaho has passed a law that allows bicycles to proceed at a slow speed through stop signs if the coast is clear. If there is no traffic the stop sign can be treated as a yield.

    • Elizabeth

      I think the majority of the cyclists that I see on route to work in Toronto could do with a copy of the Drivers and Cyclist handbook. The majority I come across cut across and weave in and out of traffic, totally ignore red lights and think the road is for them. If drivers are to be more considerate to cyclists then cyclists should obey the road rules – otherwise fines should be imposed.

  • John

    Great article and cause.
    Thank you.

  • I wanted to thank you for this great write up. I definitely liked every little part of it. I have you bookmarked and will be checking back.

  • [...] Shannon, Editor, Women’s Cycling ca is leading the cause. Check out her blog and appeal at: ? Speak Up For Cycling: Your Voice Is Urgently Needed! __________________ Rien ne sert de partir, il faut rouler ? [...]

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