Alf Trill in last year’s Pavilion Triathlon

There’s a lot more to bike safety than wearing a helmet

Living Well with Vicky Trill looks at concerns over bike safety on the roads

Last month, as I was driving from Ashcroft to Cache Creek, I was stuck behind a big piece of farm machinery. I caught up to it at the top of the hill on the highway coming out of town, just after the last passing lane.

It was a wide machine, and there was no opportunity for it to pull over until we were almost to Hwy. 1, so I poked along behind it with a number of other vehicles at 20 kph.

The thought crossed my mind to try to pass. However, without any dotted centre lines or double lanes (and with some law-abiding common sense kicking in), I decided that getting to my destination a couple of minutes faster wasn’t worth breaking the law, or risking my life (or someone else’s), for, so I tried to be patient.

You’ve been in this situation too, I’m sure, and hopefully you chose to be patient and wait to pass in a safe and law-abiding manner.

I wonder, though: do we do the same when it comes to a bicyclist riding on the road in front of us?

A few years ago I was reunited with an “old friend”: my bike. I had forgotten how much fun it was to ride, but I also didn’t remember how much balance and control was involved in riding. It took me a few months before I felt comfortable with my “friend” again, and remembered how to ride safely.

Did you know that a cyclist has to follow the same rules of the road as any other driver? Cyclists are to drive in the right-hand lane, signal, stop, shoulder check, and follow speed limits just like they do when they drive their car.

I was talking to a friend from Switzerland, who told me that over there you drive your car alongside a sea of cyclists, including many children who ride their bikes to and from school each day. School children in Switzerland are required to take and pass a road bike test to ensure that they know how to signal, move in and out of lanes, and follow the road rules appropriately.

I’ve had my driver’s license for more than 25 years, so have a good understanding of how to be safe on the road, and I do my best to remember all this driving knowledge when I ride my bike. I wonder, though, if we could do a better job of educating and training our children and teens regarding how to ride their bikes safely.

A large part of being safe on the road falls to the cyclist, but a lot of it is up to the drivers of the other vehicles. Did you know that a driver must treat a bike the same as he would treat a car? When you come up to a cyclist on the road and he is going slower than you, do you squeeze past in the same lane or cross over a solid centre line to pass?

I have been involved in a number of conversations lately regarding bicyclists on the road, and am surprised at how many vehicle drivers think that having to share the road with a cyclist is a nuisance. They also have no idea that vehicle laws apply to cyclists.

As I train for triathlons, I ride my bike on various roads and highways, and find that most drivers are using caution and good sense. Almost every time I ride, however, I also encounter at least one vehicle that isn’t. Cars squeeze next to me in the same lane I am riding in, or right next to the white line when I’ve pulled over to the shoulder. Worse yet are those people who drive close and then honk their horn or shout as they pass!

All of these driving habits are not only illegal, but also extremely dangerous.

Biking is a healthy, environmentally friendly way to travel, and I highly recommend it. As we pedal down the road, or see someone else pedalling, let’s use our good law-abiding common sense and patience so we can all travel safely to our destinations.

Vicky Trill

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