Bike lanes could save lives

A dark, grainy photo from a CTV news video reveals the stunned and haunted portrait of a man with a shattered life. Minutes earlier, he had been former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant, driving his SAAB convertible with his wife after celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary.

A dark, grainy photo from a CTV news video reveals the stunned and haunted portrait of a man with a shattered life. Minutes earlier, he had been former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant, driving his SAAB convertible with his wife after celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary. By the time the news cameras stopped rolling, he was part of a high-profile criminal investigation into a car-bicycle altercation that left a cyclist dead.

Assigning blame is the necessary job of the legal system. The necessary job for everyone else is to learn something from this.

There isn’t a city in Canada that has avoided a rise in confrontations between motorists and cyclists on ever-crowded city streets.

In Edmonton, cyclists willingly risk a $250 fine for riding on the sidewalk along the trendy Whyte Avenue boutique-and-bistro strip, because it’s simply too dangerous to traverse the area on the street. Even in laid-back, health-conscious Vancouver, police are publicly asking drivers to cool down around riders.

It is the cyclist’s legal right to ride the street — and to occupy the entire lane while doing so — but there isn’t a city in Canada that will fully acknowledge that legal right, much less enforce it.

In Red Deer, Mayor Morris Flewwelling admits that “only very gutsy cyclists” attempt to ride the city streets and that little has been done to create space for them on those streets.

Last Saturday, a convertible/bicycle confrontation on 19th Street potentially could have gone the same direction as the tragedy in Toronto that killed Darcy Allan Sheppard.

A group of cyclists was finishing a charity bike ride along 19th Street heading east, which is always a busy section of road. One of them could see drivers getting frustrated by having to pass one group of bikes after another along the way, and at one point the driver of an expensive convertible told another rider to “get over,” just he passed.

You know how your mouth gets dry after a long day of work outdoors, and you have to swallow and lick your lips before you can speak? That happened to the rider, so what with traffic noise and the time delay, the driver probably never heard my two-word reply.

That alone could have been enough to keep the event from escalating as the car pulled away and I rode on, fuming.

But for the sake of not letting the issue die here, let’s remember: the cyclist has full legal right to the entire lane and does not need to “get over,” especially when there are no bike lanes or off-street paths, which is the case on 19th Street eastbound.

As well, charity bike rides are specifically licensed by Alberta Transportation, which rejected other much safer routes, eventually approving one that traverses one of the worst-planned streets for pedestrians and cyclists in this city, outside of Taylor Drive.

It shouldn’t take a “very gutsy cyclist” to raise money for a charity, nor even to take a reasonably direct route to work.

The number of riders in Red Deer is increasing — and it’s not just youngsters enjoying their first taste of freedom on wheels. Thirty-somethings to Baby Boomers are rediscovering the healthful pleasures and economy of using a bike as urban transport, in numbers that city authorities may not have realized.

Certainly they never planned for it.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, city cyclists are asked to gather for a 10 a.m. start to a half-hour massed cruise to the Red Deer Public Market by the Arena, where a table has been rented as a platform to keep cyclists, motorist and city officials talking about solutions.

That certainly beats talking about fatalities and shattered lives.

Greg Neiman is an Advocate editor.

Just Posted

Trump says ‘things are going very well’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that “things are going very… Continue reading

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

Trudeau fields questions at town hall meeting in St-Hyacinthe, Que.

SAINT-HYACINTHE, Que. — Ottawa’s decision to sign the UN compact for migration… Continue reading

Americans face deadline to file paperwork for Huawei executive’s extradition

OTTAWA — American authorities are facing a key deadline at the end… Continue reading

Red Deer officials will allow Calgary to trial alcohol in parks

The result could determine if local rules are relaxed

WATCH: Skaters hit the outdoor oval for first ever Jeremy Wotherspoon Open

Long track speed skaters from across the province braved the elements this… Continue reading

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Kriechmayr edges Swiss favourite Feuz to win WCup downhill

WENGEN, Switzerland — It takes a special run to beat Switzerland’s best… Continue reading

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Most Read