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

Emergency crews respond to crash on Elk Lake Drive

Emergency vehicles are blocking access to the area

Langford Fire calm mother and daughter after being trapped in elevator

Three-year-old girl given stuffed animal to calm nerves

Langford’s City Centre Park cautiously reopens most activities as of Friday

Ice rink, bowling alley and restaurant to follow new regulations

Youth riding high after Sidney re-opens skate park

Skate park, tennis courts, volleyball court and multi-use court proved popular on the weekend

Income tax deadline looming

2019 individual tax returns are due June 1, June 15 for self-employed individuals

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

Most Read