The advent of spring weather is going to bring more than robins to the Parksville-Qualicum area. It’s also going to mean more bicycles on the road.
That, says Central Island Traffic Services Corporal Mike Elston, means an increased chance of collisions between motorists and cyclists — a situation that never turns out well for the cyclist.
“People are starting to get out and about and the bicycles will be getting dusted off,” Elston said. “As the weather gets a little bit nicer we are going to see more bicycles and pedestrians on the roads. It’s important at any time of year, but especially now, for bicyclists to stick to rules of the road and make themselves visible and for drivers to give them the room they need.”
Elston said that the rules of the road apply to cyclists, noting that crosswalks are not called “crossrides” for a reason. However, he stressed that a certain amount of common sense — both on the part of drivers and cyclists alike — can go a long way towards keeping people safer this cycling season.
“For instance, we don’t want our little ones riding on the road,” he said. “Pedestrians have to be aware that for little kids we make allowances and they are allowed to ride on the sidewalk, but the sidewalks are primarily for pedestrians or people in mobility-assisted scooters.”
Cyclists, he added, need to remember to ride as far over to the side of the road as they can — but only to a point.
“Cyclists have the right to operate on roadways, regardless of whether or not there is a shoulder,” he said. “The rule is to stay as far to the edge of the edge of the road as possible, but they don’t have to ride in the dirt and they don’t have to ride on gravel. If they have to enter a lane of traffic, they have the right to do so.”
One bone of contention, he said, is the narrow French Creek bridge.
“There is no law that states a cyclist must dismount and use a sidewalk if the road is narrow,” Elston said. “A cyclist has the right to utilize the roadway regardless of how wide it is, as long as they do it safely. If it takes a driver an extra few seconds to get across the bridge because they can’t get past a cyclist, that’s just a fact of life. Take a deep breath and once it is safe, you can safely pass.”
Cyclists, he added, must do their part and obey the rules of the road.
“If you are a cyclist you are supposed to ride on the road just as if you were driving a car,” he said. “Stop signs apply. Red lights apply. The truth is, whether the cyclist is in the right or not, a cyclist will not win a battle with a car.”