November 14, 2018

By NICOLE JOBES

When there is a collision between a bicycle and a car, the car always wins.

While some students choose to ride their bicycles to school in an effort to go green, the decision to put the pedal to the metal and save gas money for bread is purely about economics.

Whether you buy bread or hug trees, the bottom line remains the same: riding your bike to school can be scary and very dangerous at times. It always seems that the supposed metre-wide gap gets smaller and smaller, and you end up feeling like you’re Tom Cruise in a Mission Impossible movie, jumping into the convertible next to you.

Several weeks ago a 14-year-old boy riding his bike was struck on Fairway Road in Kitchener. He died from his injuries.

Ron Schirm, cycling co-ordinator for Kitchener, urged students to learn from the incident.

“Cyclists have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road,” Schirm said while noting that the boy did not have working brakes on his bike. But the onus does not always fall solely on the cyclist. “Both the driver and the cyclist have a legal responsibility and a moral responsibility to ensure everyone is safe.”

Bill Bean, assistant news editor of The Waterloo Region Record and online cycling blogger of 38 years, said he suspects many cyclists think they have the right of way over motor vehicles.

“Not so … cyclists who change lanes or stop without signalling are just as likely to be involved in an accident as motorists who behave erratically.”

Education is the key, as both Bean and Schirm both advocate. In Waterloo Region, Can-Bike programs are sponsored through the injury prevention section of Waterloo Region Public Health and aim to educate those over the age of 10 in the rules of the road and cyclist confidence.

Use hand signals. Get a bike horn. Sidewalks are dangerous. Helmets protect you. Ride with traffic. These are a few of Can-Bike’s safe riding tips; more can be found on their website, www.canbike.net.

“Be confident and predictable when riding … when you behave like a vehicle, motorists will respond to you as if you were one of them,” Bean said.

At the end of the road, if you’ve made it to class and back to your home it’s a victory both you and drivers can share in.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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