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Watch out for cyclists this summer

Posted on June 24, 2015 by Taber Times

Town streets and area highways are getting busier every year.

It is a fact of life living in a growing province, as more vehicles are on the road than ever before.

As the weather warms, roadways become even more congested with the emergence of cyclists on the scene. And with the increase in cycle traffic, there come with it an increase in collisions.

According to Alberta Transportation, the months of May to September are when the highest rates of collisions involving motorcycles and bicycles are recorded. It certainly stands to reason, just like the statistics which point to the afternoon rush hour as the most frequent time for collisions to take place.

Unfortunately for those on bikes, either the motorized or pedal variety, there is very little room for error out there on the road. A mistake or a momentary lapse in concentration can have a devastating impact. Riders simply do not have the protection of those inside cars and trucks, and being thrown from a bike or impacted by a vehicle can result in life-altering injuries or death.

Even with helmets, 80 per cent of all cycling deaths are caused by head injuries, as there is simply no helmet on earth which can ensure a cyclist does not lose out in a big way in a collision with a vehicle.

With that in mind, everyone that uses our roads this summer needs to be on high alert. Whether it is a quick five-minute driver through the heart of the city for a city errand, or a four-hour drive on the highway, attention to detail is key.

It has already been a tragic year thus far, as a motorcycle rider was killed June 6 and a cyclist was left dead by a May 30 collision, two incidents which undoubtably had a huge impact on the friends and family members of those two people.

But it is a reminder we all must share the road, and share it safely and responsibly. That message needs to be delivered and received by those using all forms of transportation, as the consequences of not taking this seriously can be very dire indeed.

Certainly, it us up to those driving in cars and trucks to be on the lookout for those riding bikes. Proper shoulder checks are key, as motorcycles can be difficult to pick up in rearview mirrors, as a basic awareness of those on two wheels can go a long way toward cutting down on collisions.

For those operating bikes, travelling the same direction as traffic, wearing brightly-coloured clothing, making proper lane changes and obeying traffic signals are all extremely important.

Unfortunately, there will always be those riding on two wheels, or in vehicles with four wheels, which will fall to temptation and drive a excessive speeds, weave in and out of traffic or simply think the rules of the road do not apply to them. Most often, it is young drivers and cyclists who are impacted most, as Alberta Transportation statistics pointed out most casualties among the 42 reported in 2013 involved motorcyclists who were men age 25 and under.

Young cyclists between the ages of 10-14 were most likely to be injured in bicycle collisions, and while youth is no excuse for recklessness, it bodes mentioning drivers do need to be more alert than ever, especially with thousands upon thousands or young people who are either out of school or soon to be.
The two fatalities already reported in 2015 are two too many.

Let’s make sure that number does not grow this summer, and make sure everyone, drivers and cyclists alike, obey the rules of the road, pay careful attention to what they are doing and make every effort ensure everyone gets home safely.

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