Cy­clists de­serve a safe space

PressReader - Tke Channel - Cy­clists de­serve a safe space
Re: End the war be­tween cy­clists and mo­torists, July 28.It is sur­pris­ing, given re­cent cov­er­age by David Reevely of the un­safe de­sign for cy­clists on Hol­land Av­enue, that the Cit­i­zen would run a col­umn propos­ing road safety ed­u­ca­tion in­stead of safe cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture.As one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the cam­paign for cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture on Hol­land Av­enue, I am con­fi­dent that the hun­dreds of peo­ple who signed a pe­ti­tion ask­ing for bike lanes, as well as the 100 peo­ple who came out to ride on the inad­e­quate shar­rows painted on Hol­land, did not feel com­fort­able with a par­a­digm where cars and buses mix with cy­clists, and where ev­ery­one has an ab­surdly equal re­spon­si­bil­ity for road safety, re­gard­less of ve­hi­cle size and speed.It is fair to say that this decades-old view of road safety, where ed­u­ca­tion and en­force­ment are seen as para­mount, has not made roads safer and has failed to en­cour­age greater num­bers of peo­ple to walk and bike.I was glad to see that the au­thor was in­ter­ested in how cy­cling is in­stilled as a mode of trans­porta­tion in chil­dren at school in the Nether­lands.While this is ob­vi­ously a pos­i­tive be­hav­iour, here in North Amer­ica we strug­gle against de­clin­ing ac­tiv­ity lev­els and obe­sity in chil­dren.The ar­ti­cle missed some es­sen­tial points.In the Nether­lands, and other coun­tries with a sig­nif­i­cant cy­cling modal share, roads are nor­mally de­signed with an em­pha­sis on safety. Safe in­ter­sec­tions on nar­rower, liv­able streets, en­gi­neered for low­ered speeds, en­sure that col­li­sions don’t au­to­mat­i­cally end in tragedy, and sup­port a less auto-cen­tric view of pub­lic space.This is markedly dif­fer­ent from Ot­tawa, where cy­clists are ex- pected to fight for space on busy, high-speed streets, en­gi­neered for traf­fic flow rather than safety.For­tu­nately, we know from the lessons of the Lau­rier Av­enue seg­re­gated bike lanes that when cy­clists are given a safe space, rid­er­ship will in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly, and the num­ber of col­li­sions with cars will de­crease dra­mat­i­cally.Given the choice, I would gladly opt to ed­u­cate my chil­dren to ride on streets where safety is en­gi­neered into street de­sign, rather than try to con­vince them that streets like Hol­land Av­enue are per­fectly safe as long as you obey the rules and hope that ev­ery­one else does too.It’s time to ded­i­cate more re­sources to safe in­fra­struc­ture for vul­ner­a­ble road users and to drop the pre­tence that ed­u­ca­tion will fun­da­men­tally change be­hav­iours on poorly de­signed roads.Érinn Cun­ning­ham, Ot­tawa

A cy­clist rides along Hol­land Av­enue near the Queensway over­pass. The city put cy­cling shar­rows in the mid­dle of each side of the road but many said this was too dan­ger­ous, so the city changed its mind.

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