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Sharing the road is everyone’s responsibility

SIMCOE, JUNE 6, 2013 – As June’s warmer weather lures more pedestrians and cyclists onto trails and roadways, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is urging motorists to exercise extra caution when approaching bicyclists with whom they share the road.

Roads following the lakeshore and those leading to popular lakeside destinations see an increase in traffic on warm, sunny days as people head to a cottage, beach, or simply want to enjoy a scenic drive. This increased traffic presents a concern for the Health Unit, OPP and municipal tourism staff members, as many of these roads are also popular cycling routes for locals and visitors to the area.

In Haldimand County, staff recently finished installing Share the Road signs along popular bike routes. Large black and yellow signs greet drivers as they enter Haldimand County, and 140 smaller cautionary signs, which include way-finding information and denote which cycling route the user is on, have been installed throughout the area.

The signs serve as a reminder to drivers that cyclists are on the roads and that extra caution should be taken when approaching or overtaking a cyclist. The signs are also designed to remind cyclists that they too need to follow the rules of the road.

“We want to promote Haldimand County as a cycling destination, and to keep riders and drivers safe while they share our relatively low-traffic roads,” said James Goodram, manager of economic development and tourism in Haldimand County.

In Norfolk County, the Share the Road signs have been in place for close to three years. Local citizens, visiting cycling groups 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.

“The signs have been well received so far, and now we’re looking to expand our inventory of signs on popular cycling routes this spring,” noted Michele Crowley, health promoter with the Health Unit. “We have great support from Norfolk County’s public works department to get these signs produced and installed, and the OPP is helping to spread the message.”

Crowley added that the main message for drivers is to treat bicycles as if they are vehicles too. 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.

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.

Cyclists should always ride on the right, in the same direction as traffic, and maintain a straight line as best as possible. A bicycle can occupy any part of a lane when safety warrants it e.g. to avoid obstacles.

Safety messages for pedestrians are a bit different. Walkers are to walk facing traffic or use sidewalks where available. Walkers should cross busy streets at designated crossings, where drivers expect to see them. Wearing reflective clothing or arm bands also helps the walkers be seen more quickly and easily by motorists.

The Health Unit offers free Share the Road bumper magnets for drivers to help spread this important road safety message. To order magnets visitwww.hnhu.org/sharetheroad.

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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