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Issues remain for cyclists

According to Ontario’s traffic laws, motorists are required to provide cyclists one metre of space when passing. Joe Arruda, the chair of the Durham Region Cycling Coalition, says many drivers do not follow this law, causing safety concerns.

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Cyclists in Oshawa are hoping drivers will be more diligent in following the law and give them one metre of space while passing.

According to a Durham Region pamphlet on sharing the road with cyclists, motorist responsibilities include recognizing hazards cyclists face everyday on the road, and to slow down and give them one metre of space when passing them.

Joe Arruda, the chair of the Durham Region Cycling Coalition (DRCC), has spoken to The Oshawa Express before about drivers not following this rule. He says things have not gotten any better.

“I think there’s still a lack of public knowledge out there,” he says.

Arruda says he still has daily incidents with drivers on the road.

“It’s mainly along Taunton Road, which is my main commute,” he explains. “It just seems that when they’re either close to 60 [km/hr] or they’re doing more than 60, but also not moving into the left lane on a two-lane road as is required by law to wait until it’s clear in the left lane to pass the cyclist.”
He says drivers believe they are giving him sufficient space in their shared lane, but it isn’t enough.

Arruda says he uses a pool noodle to show drivers the proper amount of space they should be allotting himself and other cyclists.

“I got the idea I saw from someone in The Toronto Star,” he explains. “I think he commutes daily in Toronto somewhere, and he puts a noodle on his bike, and it measures one metre.”

Arruda notes he has yet to bring out the noodle this year, but he has used it for the last two years, and it seems to help.

A lot of people have told him the noodle is a good idea, but others have told him to “get off the road,” Arruda explains.

“The police seem to like it when I have it on,” he says. “But in saying that, I wish the police would maybe do education blips like they do with seatbelt checks and stuff like that where they’re standing on the side of the road as cars are getting on and off the road checking for seat belts.”

Recently the region passed Durham Vision Zero, a program that aims to reduce fatalities on the road.

One issue touched upon in Vision Zero is the safety of cyclists.

Arruda says the DRCC is a stakeholder in Vision Zero, and they also have members from their board of directors involved in with the program.

“I think we have a lot of work to do,” he says. “I’m glad the region is bringing a bit to the forefront, especially in the last budget that they just approved… but, there’s stuff like when a bike is crossing the road and drivers are saying ‘Hey, you should be on the sidewalk.’ No, I should be crossing through the crosswalk, but I shouldn’t have to get off my bike if the roads are marked properly.”

Arruda wishes to remind drivers to be aware, as spring is now in full swing there will be more cyclists on the road.