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Letter: Cyclists treading in dangerous territory with ‘willful negligence’ of safety practices

They are competing with far-deadlier motor vehicles, and there seems to be a lack of common sense
Whitefish resident Thomas Price says cyclists, like the group of about 30 youth in Chelmsford who have drawn criticism for their rides, are playing a dangerous game against motor vehicles. (File Photo)

The recent article regarding Chelmsford residents being upset with cyclists indicates a willful negligence of safety practices by the participants.  

Those cyclists obviously failed to recognize that first and foremost, highways and other roadways are corridors of commerce. To facilitate that commerce today, suppliers and traders are legally allowed to use road corridors by paying a licensing fee and support road costs through fuel taxes for construction and maintenance.  

Their use of the roads is essential for the supply of food, clothing, materials, medical supplies, etc. This has not changed since bartering began with cave-life society. 

What has changed, is the hazards that exist in those corridors. Orders of magnitude increases in traffic volumes, carrier/load sizes and speeds have also meant orders of magnitude increases in hazards. Humans on bicycles are no match for those hazards and, factually, are far less safe than a pedestrian.

To mitigate consequences of corridor hazards, private vehicles must have: airbag occupant protection; roll-over protection; impact absorbing structures; seatbelts; mandatory mechanical fitness; minimum tread depths on tires; working warning lights and; massive liability insurance policies.  

Along with the vehicle risk aversions, drivers are mandated to obey safety rules of use for roadways that vary with the type of road, traffic volume, weather conditions, other users and potential for wildlife presence.  

Safety rules limit the allowable traffic flow impediment for motor vehicle drivers and include financial penalties for failing to comply. Penalties for disobeying road safety rules can include financial penalties, loss of use of a vehicle and even loss of vehicle. These conditions, requirements and consequences have been enacted in law for user and public safety.

In comparison, bicycles have none of those safety features, are not equipped to deal with the increase in hazards, minimal liability and few are subject to legal consequences. A number of users, as demonstrated in the article, operate their bicycles with complete abandonment of awareness of the major hazards they are exposed to or creating.  

Cycling safety requirements are relaxing, favouring education over enforcement. This is not working. 

Promotion of cycling as an alternative means of transportation and keeping physically fit is increasing. Parents with accompanying children, if in situations like those in the article, are guilty of child endangerment and should be appropriately charged. No warnings, charged.

It's time that serious reconsideration be given to allowing use and promotion of these corridors as physical fitness venues or as acceptable routes for such grossly different means of transportation.

At minimum, cyclists should practise common sense in recognizing that the larger, heavier, faster equipment they are playing next to is of far greater consequence to their person than they are to that equipment.  

Do cyclists actually believe that a one-metre distance between their handlebars and a 100-tonne truck travelling at 60 km/h is all the protection they need or that stop signs and stopping practices at intersection are only meant for motorized vehicles?  

Be aware, you are entering an industrial corridor.

Thomas Price, Whitefish