Campus Police Focus on Bicycle Safety

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Written by Rachelle Cooper-News Service Officer, Communications and Public Affairs

As the weather warms up, more and more people are using a bicycle to commute to the University of Guelph for work or school, but roughly 70 per cent of them are breaking the law and putting their safety in jeopardy, says Const. Steve Forbes. The U of G Campus Community Police bike unit will be running a bicycle spot check at the McGilvray Street and Gordon Street intersection May 30 from 7:30 to 10 a.m. to provide safety information about cycling.

The Bicycle SPACE (Safety, Prevention, Awareness, Courtesy and Education) Program is being funded by the Women's Campus Safety Initiative Fund and will be operated in conjunction with Paramount Ski and Sports, whose staff will offer quick bike inspections and adjustments to keep cyclists safe on the road.

"We want to help people realize that if you're operating a bike on the road, it needs to have a bell, lights if you ride at night, and you have to signal and obey traffic laws," said Forbes, who will be handing out pamphlets at the spot check. "We're running this program to educate members of our community about the importance of being a safe cyclist."

After two reported accidents involving a cyclist being struck by a vehicle on campus last year, Const. Liz Bouchard decided to observe busy intersections at the University to determine if cyclists were being safe on the road. Seventy per cent of the cyclists she observed broke the law either by going through traffic lights and stop signs, failing to signal, riding on the sidewalk or making unsafe lane changes. Fifty percent of the cyclists observed were not wearing a helmet.

"A lot of people don't realize that if you have a driver's licence and you go through a red light on a bike, it could affect your driving record," said Forbes. "Also, there's an $85 fine for not having a bell. It's just like driving a car without a horn."

Forbes added that all cyclists are required to walk their bikes across a crosswalk and that bicycles with tires larger than 26 inches (like mountain bikes) are not allowed on sidewalks. For more information, contact Bouchard or Forbes at (519) 824-4120, Ext. 52245.

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