Safety concerns

Tragic death of young cyclist while he was riding in a charity event puts highlight on bike safety in Parksville Qualicum Beach

In light of the tragic death of a 16-year-old Vancouver Island charity cycler on the weekend, Oceanside RCMP this week issued a warning to local cyclists and motorists alike to take extra care on the roads this summer.

Xavier Pelletier, a Grade 10 student from Pacific Christian School in Victoria was killed while cycling in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in Washington State. Corporal Mike Elston said a key to avoiding conflicts between cyclists and motorists is for motorists to treat bikes as vehicles and for cyclists to both know and follow the rules of the road.

“Think of cyclists as a slow-moving motorcycle,” Elston said. “However, unlike a motorized vehicle, cyclists need to stay as far to the right as possible, although they don’t have to ride on the dirt or the sidewalk. As well, motorists need to give them a wider berth.”

Elston said he doesn’t see many conflicts between motorists and cyclists in the Parksville-Qualicum area, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

He said a good rule of thumb is for both cyclists and motorists to act as though the other doesn’t know they’re there.

As well, he said cyclists need to walk their bikes when using a crosswalk and avoid riding on sidewalks.

“It’s a sidewalk, not a sideride,” he said. “Just like it’s a crosswalk, not a crossride. If you want to use it, walk it.”

He stressed however that youngsters who don’t have full control of their bicycles don’t belong on the road.

“Common sense comes into play here,” he said. “A parent is not going to have their five-year-old riding along a lane of travel with their back to the traffic,” Elston said. “The little ones don’t have control over their bikes like adults. We would be asking them to be hit by a car. We need the little ones to use the sidewalk, but anyone with any semblance of control and who knows the rules of the road should use their bike like a vehicle and obey the rules of the road.”

The fines for riding on a sidewalk, riding without proper lights after dark and careless cycling are all $109, while riding a bicycle without a helmet garners a $29 fine.

However, Elston stressed this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“If you are on a bike and you decide to blow a red light, you’ll get the same ticket that a car does,” he said. “If you disobey a yellow light, you can be charged on a bike just like a car.”