Cyclist’s death one more reason to create a network of bike lanes
If further proof is needed of the dangers of riding a bike in busy traffic, consider the Monday death of a cyclist in Mississauga.
The 27-year-old cyclist was hit by a transport truck at 9.10 a.m. while pedaling on Airport Rd., near Northwest Dr., not far from the Toronto-Mississauga boundary, and died at the scene.
When cyclists ride on busy streets such as Airport Rd. and are constantly in close quarters with big, fast-moving vehicles, accidents are inevitable.
Bike riders hardly ever walk away, but are sometimes carried away in a hearse.
It had me thinking of my Monday column on the shortcomings of the new bike lanes on Sherbourne St., which are separated from traffic by a raised curb that is not quite high enough to prevent vehicles from pulling over it and parking.
It will no doubt be source of aggravation for cyclists, but the Sherbournes lanes are (hopefully) the first step towards a network of separated bike lanes that allow them to safely travel on busy streets.
With the painted lines used to create bike lanes along the Jarvis St. soon to disappear, it feels like we’re taking a step backward, even though the Sherbourne lanes amount to progress.
But Sherbourne isn’t as central to the middle of downtown as Jarvis, and will often require riders to make a side trip of sorts, if they want to use the separated lanes.
It may be wishful thinking, but a tremendous opportunity was lost by eliminating the Jarvis lanes. It would have been easy to build barriers along the established bike lanes, as the first piece in a larger cycling system that would make biking safer and help legitimize it as a viable alternative to driving.
Whatever drivers think of bike riders – and many don’t like them and share the road only grudgingly – it is essential that they be accommodated, and that our road infrastructure is adjusted to allow them to travel safely.
As traffic becomes more congested, even more cyclists will end up under the wheels of trucks.
But there isn’t the will at city hall – at least not yet - to get started on the network of separated cycling lanes that are needed.