Why not support Lanes for Life?

On Saturday, cyclists will ride the Lanes for Life in support of bicycle lanes in Red Deer.

On Saturday, cyclists will ride the Lanes for Life in support of bicycle lanes in Red Deer.

Starting at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School at 10 a.m., the Lanes for Life riders will cycle through the city to eventually arrive at the public market. It is a short ride and will only take about half an hour.

Red Deer has a wonderful system of bicycle trails and is justifiably proud of them. Before the paths were built, there were very few people walking or riding through the woods and along the river. Now the trails are extremely popular and provide great recreation.

I hope that Red Deer is ready to take the next step to becoming a bicycle-friendly community by allowing cyclists their own space where they can commute safely and efficiently on the roads.

Commuting by bicycle means travelling directly from home to the office, or from one store to another rather than having to find a circuitous route using a combination of bicycle paths, sidewalks and less congested roads.

When trying to get people out of their cars and using alternate transportation, the most obvious solution is the bicycle.

The City of Seattle estimates that trimming one vehicle from your household saves you $340 per month.

If a commuter takes 15 minutes to get to work in a car and only 30 minutes on a bicycle, the extra 15 minutes added to the morning commute provides great benefits including getting exercise in an easy and enjoyable way while not using fossil fuels or polluting the environment.

The California Department of Health Services states that, behind tobacco, the leading cause of death among adults is inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle.

At the present, people who wish to commute by bicycle do not have a safe way to travel directly to work, school or shopping.

Pedestrians believe they have the right of way on sidewalks and paths and that cyclists ride too quickly. Motorists believe they have the right of way on the road and become annoyed with cyclists who travel too slowly. There is no real estate devoted to the cyclist.

According to the City of Red Deer Bicycle Master Plan Update, data “clearly indicates that sidewalk riding results in significantly more bicycle-motor vehicle collisions than on-street cycling” as a result of their trying to cross intersections.

Frequently, sidewalks and multi-use trails are only on one side of the road. This means that the cyclist using these trails is going against the flow of traffic half of the time, and entering the intersection from the wrong direction. Bicycle lanes on both sides of the street are much safer.

Bicycle lanes will not resolve all problems. Bicycle lanes will not make bad motorists good motorists. Bicycle lanes will not ensure that all cyclists wear helmets or wear reflective clothing. However, cities that have created bicycle lanes have found that a bicycle culture develops and that, where there are many cyclists, good bicycle habits are more widespread. They also deserve their own dedicated real estate to get them safely to their destination.

The Better Bicycle Commuting group hopes that those who like to use their bicycles to get around town will come out and join our ride. Please remember to bring your helmet and good manners.

John Johnston

Red Deer County

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