Bicycle Accident Prevention: Cyclists need to be Educated

Vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle accident statistics are readily available.  It is not a pretty picture.  In particular, there has been a steady increase in the number of incidents, injuries, and fatalities associated with bicycles.  This is true of any city that has tried to make itself more bicycle friendly.  I find it ironic though, that my home City of Toronto which professes safety, does not make helmet usage mandatory in its own bike sharing program.

In fact, key hospital emergency statistics are rarely quoted when talking about bicycle accidents.  Emergency Hospital attendances are contemporaneous with bad decisions.  Hospitals have the unique ability to diagnose a reason for an accident.  In the past this had led to safety warnings, product and food product recalls, and changes in safety laws.  Bicycle accidents should be no different.      

City car and bicycle accidents can no longer be blamed on “speed”.  With the constriction of traffic lanes, reduction of speed limits and the implementation of so many road ways reduced to accommodate bicycles (even in the winter), there must be a different reason.  

There are many suggestions as to why there is an increase in bicycle accidents.  Answers range from road construction, poor signage, and even road rage.  I believe there is a simpler answer to the problem and it falls upon the shoulders of bicyclists.  Most are inexperienced, have little knowledge of the rules of the road and they have misplaced views of their rights.  Few, if any, have any practicable training, abide by speed limits, use hand signals or have lights on their bikes for night driving.  

The Highway Traffic laws dictate what we can and cannot do on public roadways.  Most traffic laws purport a reverse onus on behalf of pedestrians (which includes bicyclists) with respect to the assumption of “fault’.  It is not a carte blanche for a bicyclist to do what they want.  

Everyone who uses a public road is obliged to obey the Highway Traffic laws.  I observed an instance where a pedestrian was run over by a bicyclist in front of the TD Centre.  While the pedestrian walked across a bicycle path, a bicyclist yelled three times, “get out of my lane”.  He refused to slow down or stop, and purposely drove into a young lady.  This is inexcusable.  

Bicycle Safety Education

To make roads safer, bicyclists need to be properly educated about bicycle safety precautions and rules.  We cannot keep blaming car drivers for the bad actions of bicyclists.  In my opinion, bicyclists need to be properly educated on the rules of the road, tested, licensed, and should have to carry insurance.  For tips, rules and information regarding bicycle safety, you can check out the The United States Department of Transportation website

The financial cost of making cities bicycle friendly has not gone well:  It has caused ballooning city budgets; increases in property taxes; road constriction and congestion; and an increase in bicycle accidents, injuries and deaths.  If education is the real answer, then let’s do it.  In the long run, it will reduce injuries and deaths. 

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