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County reminds drivers and cyclists to share the road

SIMCOE, JUNE 7, 2012 – The recent warm weather has encouraged a number of Norfolk County residents to dust off their bicycles and hit the open road. Since the same open road is used by drivers of motor vehicles, various Norfolk County departments are working together to keep area roads safe, whether the user is pushing a bike pedal or a gas pedal.

Twenty-five ‘Share the Road’ signs were installed along the lakeshore roads last year, as that route is especially popular with cyclists and pedestrians.

“We have been gathering input from local riders and our colleagues at Planning and Economic Development as to the next best places to install the signs,” said Bill Cridland, Manager of Norfolk County’s Roads Department. “Last year we covered the lakeshore and now we are moving on to other popular riding areas.”

This year, an additional 25 signs will be placed along the main routes in and out of Delhi, as well as around the west end of Simcoe. Other cycling routes in Norfolk County will receive signs in 2013.

Bicycles are considered vehicles under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and have the same rights on public roadways as drivers of motor vehicles. Cyclists also share the same responsibilities as drivers, and must obey all traffic laws, signs and signals.

Local citizens who enjoy a leisurely bike ride, visiting cycling groups who head to Norfolk for a scenic country ride, and farmers whose migrant workers use bikes as transportation have all noticed the signs and applaud the County for addressing the issue of road safety for all types of vehicles.

“We have had great feedback from the cycling community about the signs,” said Michele Crowley, Health Promoter with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “Obviously cyclists agree that actions taken by the County to keep riders safe on the roads are a good thing.”

One obvious indicator of the level of community support for the program is the high demand for the bright yellow Share the Road bumper magnets.

“I have easily distributed over 1000 of these magnets so far,” noted Crowley. “It’s really exciting to see them on the backs of so many vehicles in the area.”

However, more education is still needed among both motorists and cyclists.

Cyclists must ride on the right-hand side of the road, in the same direction as traffic, and ride in single file, except when passing. Riders need to be predictable and use hand signals to communicate turns and stops. Wearing bright colours and using reflectors and lights are crucial to help the cyclist be seen by drivers.

For drivers, sharing the road with cyclists includes passing with care. Bicycles should be treated as any other slow moving vehicle and should only be passed when the road ahead is clear, giving cyclists at least one meter of space. Drivers need to check over their shoulder before moving back into their travel lane to make sure they have left enough space.

Experienced riders can travel 30 to 40km/hr and can be moving faster than some drivers may think. Drivers should never make a right hand turn in front of bicyclists. Assume they are travelling through the intersection unless they signal otherwise. When turning left, drivers must yield to oncoming bicyclists.
Drivers are also reminded not to honk their horn at cyclists. The horn can startle them and cause them to swerve into traffic.

“Drivers must respect the rights of other road users,” added Crowley. “Bicyclists and walkers are at a greater risk on the road than drivers because they’re smaller, quieter and have no crumple zones. A small mistake by a driver can result in serious injury, or fatality, to a cyclist or walker.”

For more information about Share the Road and to order a bumper magnet, visit www.hnhu.org/sharetheroad or www.norfolkpathways.ca.

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Media Contact:
Michele Crowley
Health Promoter
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3239 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
michele.crowley@hnhu.org