Monday, June 28, 2010
Share The Road... Please!
Once again bicycling season is in full swing. In recent years, more and more cyclists of all ages are taking to the roads for fun, fitness, and environmentally friendly active transportation. The “Share the Road” campaign is raising awareness among motorists that cyclists are out there in increasing numbers and that we are entitled to be there.
There is a small segment of the population however, who seem to find it amusing to “buzz” by cyclists as closely as possible, blasting the car horn at deafening volumes and laughing at the results.
As you read this, the Nova Scotia Government is amending the motor vehicle act, making it mandatory for motorists to leave a minimum of one meter between the motor vehicle and the cyclist. This means that if it is not possible to pass safely, the motorist must slow down and remain behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass. Given the capabilities of motor vehicles to accelerate rapidly after passing a bicycle, this should present no problem. The same motor vehicle act already states, “Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists”
so motorists cannot reasonably state that we do not belong on the road.
As well, it should be noted that today’s bicycles are very efficient and some cyclists are capable of reaching speeds in excess of forty kilometres per hour on level ground. Taking a fall as a result of being forced off the road at such speeds can result in serious injury, including broken bones. Collisions with motor vehicles most often results in death.
I know nobody gets in their car and says “I wonder how many cyclists I can injure or kill today,” but “Oops, I didn’t mean to do that,” will not bring a human being back to life nor will it ease a motorist’s guilt.
As a member of Velo Cape Breton, I ride with people of all ages and backgrounds. Among our members you will find people of all walks of life, some including members of your family and friends. All are part of the community in which we live.
So, motorists, while I recognise that you may feel bicycles are a menace and in your way slowing you down, I ask you to recognise that we are people just like yourself, and mean you no harm. Please do us no harm.
And cyclists, I urge you to know and follow the rules of safe cycling. Treat your bicycle as you treat your car. Ride as you drive, using proper turn signals and predictable behaviour and wear an approved helmet. Avail yourself to the Can-Bike 1 and Can-Bike 2 courses that are taught locally.
“Share the Road” means so much more than just sharing space; it is also sharing responsibility and respect.
Ride and drive safely everyone and have a great summer.