Biker safety month 2017 takes place between May 29th and the end of June. Since there is much controversy in the area of bikes and vehicles sharing the road together, Ontario is taking on the Biker Safety Month initiative. Not only is this for adult bikers sharing the road with vehicles, but it is also to promote children biking to their destinations (school), the benefits of it, and fun activities taking place during the month.
The Ontario Highway Safety Act defines a bike as “a vehicle that belongs on the road, which means all road users need to be aware of, and follow the rules” (bikemonth.ca). As a cyclist, you must share the road with other people and vehicles, including cars, buses, trucks, other bikes, motorcycles, etc. Since a bicycle is a vehicle, they must follow the same protocol as all other vehicles on the road: must obey all traffic-related laws have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, and they cannot carry passengers. They are required to stay as close to the right side of the road as possible, and can legally ride on most roads except the 400-series highways, or roads with pedestrian cross-overs.
Between 2009 and 2011, 67% of bike-related deaths were considered to be the partial fault of the driver, and only 27% of those drivers involved in these cyclist injuries/fatalities were charged. If a charge did occur, it was a simple fine of $1000 or less, rather than jail time, license suspension, etc. Just like with cars and crashes, “bicycle crashes are not bicycle “accidents.” Lawyers in the Bike Law Network have handled thousands of them, and we understand the difference” (bikemonth.ca). To prevent cyclists from getting hit by vehicles/drivers, you should wear a headlight/reflector, wave, and use signals to show vehicles on the road your plan of action, as well as slow down, and do not expect that the driver can see you.
Change needs to happen, and it can if the province implements the Vulnerable Road User law, which enforces more serious consequences to drivers and would make them be more aware of their surroundings, more cautious, and more courteous when sharing the roads with bikes.
Bike to School week is from May 30th to June 3rd, and provides children with some of the necessary exercise they require, as well as making them more aware, focused, and energized in their learning environments at school. Unfortunately, very few children in the GTA and Hamilton bike to school, with even fewer walking to school. This is evidently a much-needed initiative.
Reasons to bike to school/work (if feasible) include, but are not limited to: being inexpensive (only $500/year compared to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annual to maintain a car), basically a free/nearly free gym membership (getting exercise just by commuting to school or work, which you would have to do anyway, rather than finding time in the day to go to the gym), much faster and more time efficient as there is little to no traffic for cyclists, makes you more focused and ready to work during the day, and parking is always free!