Posted by Editoress on 06/26/13
Ontario's doctors want to ensure that bicycle infrastructure is not forgotten as governments jostle over transit funding. Ontario's doctors call on the provincial and municipal governments to provide funding for paved shoulders, bike lanes and other infrastructure elements that will improve cycling safety in this province.
At the same time, Ontario's doctors believe that cycling safety is a shared responsibility, and that all cyclists should be aware of the importance of using clear hand signals and obeying traffic rules. To help ensure that Ontario's two-wheeled drivers are doing everything possible to maximize their safety on the road, OMA president Dr. Scott Wooder has released a short, educational YouTube video.
Bicycle and pedestrian investments are an important part of the transportation infrastructure. Governments, particularly in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area, should see them as an essential part of the solution to traffic congestion. And in rural areas, opportunities for safe cycling need to be created through paved shoulders on provincial highways. Ontario should follow the lead of Quebec and British Columbia, both of which provide substantial funding for cycling infrastructure.
In 2011, the OMA released a report entitled "Enhancing Cycling Safety in Ontario", and called upon provincial and municipal governments to do more to make roads safer for bikes. The recommendations included:
• Filling the gaps in bike lane and path networks to make them safe and seamless enough for parents to feel comfortable letting their children ride on them;
• Ensuring that cycling infrastructure investments are not just be in urban centres, but in suburban settings as well;
• Connecting networks of roads with paved shoulders in rural settings, to allow for the much needed separation between cyclists and fast-travelling vehicles on rural roads;
• Supporting the ongoing delivery of bicycle safety education for young children through such programs as Can-Bike, and making such training mandatory for all Ontario primary school students.
Ontario's doctors have long championed physical exercise for both their child and adult patients. Real and perceived safety issues are preventing more patients from participating in this highly beneficial form of exercise. Surveys in Canadian cities show that creating more bike paths and lanes would most encourage people to ride their bikes. Ontario's doctors believe that better understanding of the rules of the road - and the importance of following them - will also help to ensure cyclist safety.
"If we're telling kids to go ride a bike instead of sitting in front of a TV or computer screen, we all have a responsibility to ensure our roads are safe for children to ride on," says Dr Wooder. "It's time to make a strong commitment to cycling infrastructure. A safe cycling system benefits everyone, including drivers and transit riders."
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