Saskatoon Cycles recentlt wrote an open letter to city council asking that some roads be closed to cars so that there was more space for cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist while maintaining physical distance. (Black Press Media files)

Cycling advocates say a different mindset is needed for people taking it up

Cyclists have seen a visible increase in bike usage during the pandemic

David Shellnutt and Cathy Watts want new cyclists to try and change the way they think before hitting the road.

Shellnutt and Watts are cycling advocates focused on helping Canadians stay safe as biking grows in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic with people trying to stay active but physically distant. They also expect that more people will choose cycling as a commuting alternative to public transit as the weather warms up and the country continues to reopen.

“It’s really important to do (cycle) safely and always be vigilant,” said Shellnutt, a Toronto-based lawyer that specializes in cycling accidents. “Cycling is fun, but car drivers in Ontario are very often careless and negligent.”

Watts, who is co-chair of Saskatoon Cycles, believes that an important safety step is for novice bikers to stop planning their route as if they were in a car — in other words, stay off of major thoroughfares.

“Take the residential, quiet roads. They’re so quiet, you’re going to feel so happy,” said Watts. “Figure out where you’re going to have to cross the major arterial roads, where there’s going to be a traffic light and a walkway for you to get across.”

Both Shellnutt and Watts say they’ve seen a visible increase in bike usage during the pandemic. To that end, Saskatoon Cycles wrote an open letter to city council asking that some roads be closed to cars so that there was more space for cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist while maintaining physical distance.

That anecdotal evidence is backed up by Brodie Wallace, the category merchandise manager for Mountain Equipment Co-op, one of the largest bike retailers in Canada. He says that across the country there has been a notable uptick in sales for bicycles and safety accessories like helmets, lights, and reflective bands.

Wallace says that during the first weeks of the pandemic kids bikes were the biggest sellers, suggesting parents were looking for something to keep their children active after schools closed. But as lockdowns have worn on, road bicycles in adult sizes have become more popular.

“I think that any time that we can help a Canadian become more active outside, whether that takes the form of commuting, as opposed to transit, it’s a wonderful thing,” said Wallace from Vancouver. “It’s a wonderful thing to see people use transit instead of cars because it’s much less pollution.”

Shellnutt leads workshops for cyclists across southern Ontario on what to do in the event of an accident, helping them understand their legal rights with an eye on safety. With the pandemic limiting public gatherings, Shellnutt is hosting a virtual workshop with the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation on Thursday.

In the unfortunate event of an accident, Shellnutt says a cyclist’s first priority should be to get off the road and assess their medical condition as best they can. If they can’t get off the road or are unable to assess their condition they should ask for a passerby to call for an ambulance.

He says the next step is to gather information about the accident as quickly as possible to help the cyclist access health care and lost wage benefits.

Finally, Shellnutt says an injured cyclist should try to find out who hit them so they can pursue them in court, if necessary.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Cycling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

Rosslanders celebrate Canada Day in style

Locals organized a museum scavenger hunt, a Mt. Roberts flag-raising ceremony and evening fireworks

Hwy 1 flooding causes massive delays on certain Arrow Lakes ferry routes

Motorists have been waiting around three hours to get on ferries

Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre expands operations online

The facility also opened back up to the public earlier in June

Rossland’s Sourdough Alley a ‘muddy collection of shacks’

Rossland’s earliest thoroughfare was once derided as a ‘muddy collection of shacks’

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read