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

Just Posted

‘At least they’re safe:’ Arrival of new Syrian refugee family to Haida Gwaii delayed due to COVID-19

Operation Refugees says family stuck in Lebanon with no flights, ‘but at least they’re safe’

‘Good news:’ Council of the Haida Nation releases guidelines for expanding social circles

Next steps also say outdoor spaces such as parks, playgrounds, trails may be reopening for day use

Recycling services in Queen Charlotte, Port Clements expanding next week

Plastics will be accepted again, but most residential recycling transfer stations will remain closed

Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay wins ‘Most Outstanding School’ award

B.C. School Sports will present school with banner, add GTN to plaque as winners of 2019-2020 year

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after suspect receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

Most Read