EDITORIAL: Traffic safety

An irresponsible cyclist or pedestrian is going to be seriously injured or killed in Parksville Qualicum Beach very soon if attitudes don't change.

The onus seems to always fall on the person driving a vehicle. For the most part, that's fair — drivers must be aware of their surroundings and err on the side of safety whenever there's a cyclist or pedestrian on or near the roadway.

However, some cyclists and pedestrians in this region are asking to be injured. In the end, when the inevitable happens, the injured or dead person, the vehicle driver and countless family and friends will be left with painful images for the rest of their lives.

For a change, let's turn the tables here and ask cyclists and pedestrians to pay a little more attention to what they are doing.

• Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic. This simple concept seems to escape many in our region.

• If you are walking at night, carry a light or wear reflective clothing. The amount of times we have been shocked at the last second as we drive by a darkly-clothed walker is troubling.

• It's the law to wear a helmet when cycling. Is there any ambiguity regarding that sentence?

• Sidewalks are not for bicycles.

• Ride your bike with traffic, not against it. And the reflective gear/light requirement should be the same for both walkers and cyclists.

Most of this seems like simple, common sense stuff, but spend 30 minutes on our roads any day of the year and you'll see numerous people ignoring these basic safety tenets.

A few weeks back, we published a photo of two people who were part of the Bike to Work challenge. Neither was wearing a helmet and one was even texting. Yes, we knew what the photo portrayed and yes, we published it with that in mind. Those who yelled at us for publishing it were missing the point.

Organizations like the Oceanside Cycling Coalition do good work to spread the word of safety. Unfortunately, they can't reach those who don't seem to care. And when some cyclist riding on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the road in the dark without a helmet is killed here, no doubt the driver will catch all the blame. Ridiculous.

— Editorial by John Harding

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