Keep an eye out for young cyclists

A well-meaning tip on biking from a concerned parent

Times reader Glen Byle encourages drivers to stay aware and slow down when approaching cyclists, of any age, but especially the younger ones.

Hello, I wrote the letter below after reading the message (Letter to Editor) from Raymond Maslek on June 16, though not a direct reply.

I just want my kids to grow up safe.

Not all cyclists are adults with a licence and years of driving experience. This is why I care so much about how we talk about cyclists. Because many cyclists are kids, and kids are not as capable as an adult.

Kids are constantly growing and re-adjusting to their bodies, so when they are on their bikes they can swerve suddenly as they try and catch their balance. Kids are still learning the many rules of the road, so they might not act exactly how you expect them to.

Even though I have 17 years of experience driving cars and motorcycles, when I cycle it is a constant challenge to decide what part of the lane properly balances my safety with being courteous and allowing traffic to easily pass me.

There are no bike lanes in Trail to tell people where I should be when I am on the road. If an experienced driver can find cycling challenging, is it reasonable to expect a child on a bike to handle every situation properly? I often have to remind my kids of the simple task of closing the door behind them when they go outside, so I know they could make mistakes on their bikes too.

All I’m asking is that if you are driving on the road, please take extra care when you see a cyclist. Slow down, wait until there is plenty of room to pass, and don’t rush past them too fast or too close in order to save a few seconds of time on your trip.

When my daughter was hit she was 4 years old, she had just learned how to ride with pedals that week, and she made a mistake. My kids can bike faster than I can run now. I can no longer keep them safe on my own. I have to hope that the people of Trail will take the extra time to help keep them safe too.

Glen Byle

West Kootenay Cycling Coalition

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