VIEWPOINT - Cyclist / Motorist / Pedestrian Interaction

CyclistI live on the Island Highway close to the downtown area of Campbell River. Over the past decade both as a pedestrian and as a motorist I have nearly been hit by cyclists numerous times as they careen down the sidewalk trying to see how much air they can catch jumping the driveway cuts. Very often they are going faster than the cars on the road. We have three condos south of us with steep driveways to the highway and I'm amazed that no one has had a collision with a cyclist. As a motorist I have had more than one close call when cautiously approaching the highway from the rather steep access from our property. As a motorist attempting to access the highway to head south I look south, look north, look south again and pull ahead when safe to do so. The situation that has occurred a number of times is a cyclist heading south on the sidewalk, riding against the northbound traffic, who has come perilously close to hitting or being hit by my car as I proceed onto the highway.

I cannot even begin to count the number of times I've been sworn at when I've suggested to a cyclist that he/she was contravening the MVA and if nothing else it would be helpful to have the requirements of Section 183 outlined in a column such as yours. Most people if they do more the tell me to XXXX XXX the next thing they will shout is that it is their right to ride on the sidewalk.

On this issue I have called the RCMP countless times to implore them to, if not enforce, then at least publicize the rules of the road. I fully understand the lack of resources and time available to Traffic Section members, however, even my requests for some PSA's or an editorial piece on this issue have fallen on deaf ears.

I've attached a couple of things I put together in the summer of 2010 and offered to a young woman who had expressed some concerns about these issues in a Letter to the Editor, however, she did not feel she wanted to pursue the matter any further.

TOP SEVEN OBSERVED UNSAFE &/OR ILLEGAL CYCLING PRACTICES

  1. Cycling without a helmet

  2. Failing to stop at STOP signs

  3. Failing to use hand signals

  4. Failing to wear reflective clothing at night

  5. Failing to have front and rear lights

  6. Cycling in crosswalks

  7. Cycling on sidewalks

# 1 puts the cyclist at risk of serious head trauma whether riding on a highway, laneway, sidewalk, cycling path or parking lot.

#’ s 2 – 6 put the cyclist in a high-risk position to have a collision with a motor vehicle.

#7 has a number of collision risk factors to cyclists, motorists and pedestrians

  • Riding on sidewalks in the opposite direction to the traffic lane adjacent to the sidewalk.

  • Not checking to see if motor vehicles are entering the travelled portion of the road.

  • Not yielding to pedestrians (even though the cyclist shouldn’t even be on the sidewalk)

  • Not warning, by voice, bell or horn, or dismounting when coming up behind people using the sidewalk to walk (even though the cyclist shouldn’t even be on the sidewalk)

SUGGESTED ACTIONS TO INCREASE CYCLING SAFETY IN CAMPBELL RIVER

  1. Educational campaign using Shaw Cable, the Eagle and the River radio stations and the CR Mirror and Courier-Islander newspapers to inform the general public about the rules, regulations and common sense of safe cycling.

  2. Develop a poster and/or handouts, with financial contribution from local bike shops, to be made available in their outlets for distribution to the cycling public.

  3. Develop a questionnaire for distribution through retailers and the City recreational facilities and fitness centres to ask cyclists why they sometimes (or always) cycle unsafely.

  4. Liaise with the RCMP to encourage increased enforcement of MVA cycling regulations.

  5. Liase with the City to develop alternate safer cycling routes complete with signage to encourage cyclists to stay off the Island Highway, Dogwood Street, Alder Street and other high-risk areas where cyclists are now using the sidewalks. (eg: northbound from the Seawalk could be directed to Thulin Street, through the Museum property and right through to St. Ann’s).

  6. Explore the possibility of sidewalk signage (cycling symbol with / through) painted directly on sidewalks present being heavily used by cyclists.

Comments

Cycling on sidewalks is

Cycling on sidewalks is dangerous, for sure.

However, the problem here isn't bicyclists' behaviour, or lack of education. It's a road design problem. Usually, people ride on sidewalks only because there's no safe accommodation for them on our roads. Given the apparently high number of close calls you've had, it suggests there's a significant desire for cycling-specific infrastructure where none exists. Has anyone approached the municipality asking them to look at that?

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