“If you’ve ever been brushed by a car or tractor – sometimes even had things thrown at you – it’s not a very good feeling,” said Mcdougall.
Even when cars don’t follow the minimum one metre gap they’re supposed to allow cyclists as they pass, no tickets or fines seem to be handed out, noted Mcdougall.
“I can’t recall a time, ever, that someone got a fine or charge out of something like this,” said Harvie.
And proper enforcement means enforcing rules that apply to all road users – including cyclists, said Lemmon, who wants them held accountable too.
“If a cyclist makes a violation, then they too deserve a consequence. It’s got to be equal and fair,” he said.
The biggest barrier
All four cyclists listed awareness as the biggest issue facing cyclists in Nova Scotia and the biggest challenge to safe cycling. They want to see the new act take measures to better educate the general public on the rules of sharing the road.
Each recounted incidents where drivers yelled – sometimes even getting out of their car to do so – to get off the road.
“We are traffic, same as you, and there’s always this divide between both groups. The bottom line is that access to roads is a privilege that we both share a right to, along with other types of traffic,” said Lemmon.
Banks said that while a rural context could be to blame for a lack of awareness that cyclists too are allowed on roads, the problem persists in more urban areas as well, and therefore comes down to education.
Mcdougall agreed, saying in countries like Spain, where cyclists are more prevalent, cars knowing to yield as they pass is a direct result of increasing awareness.
“Many here don’t ride bikes, and that’s fine, but they do need to respect the fact there are people out there that this is their main mode of transportation, and they need to be able to get from work to home safely,” said Harvie.
Colin Banks, owner of Banks Bikes, says making it legal for cyclists to ride two-up, meaning beside another cyclist in a group setting, makes passing large groups shorter, and therefore safer.