Timmins cycling couple have important road safety reminder

Don and Diane Sauve have cycled together for over 30 years and their bikes have seen some mileage, even going on cross-province adventures.

Through their travels, Don said, most motorists they meet are mindful of cyclists.

But there are occasions, he said, like on one of the recent rides that took them along Highway 101, where drivers can be obnoxious.

"We're trying to ride as straight as possible (along the shoulder) and all of a sudden, this guy comes up and between five and 10 feet behind me, he honked the horn," Don said.

"There's no reason for that, that's dangerous. If I'd have fallen because you startled me and I fall in front of you, you're not going to get hurt but I will."

Season for cycling approaches

As the weather warms up to ample biking conditions, Timmins Police Service (TPS) communications coordinator Marc Depatie said police frequently receive calls regarding near-miss incidents during the cycling season.

The police service's collision numbers involving cyclists in 2020 show:

  • Nine collisions occurred from May to October
  • Six happened at intersections and four along the main artery
  • Four led to non-fatal injuries and four only caused property damage (one did not need police intervention)
  • Collisions occurred between 1 p.m. and 12 a.m.

Depatie said TPS is expecting more bicycles on the streets this year, due to a rise in people looking to get outside during the pandemic, and so the police service is reminding both drivers and cyclists to take extra care around each other.

"The cyclist has to be fully aware of the fact that they may come into the path of an oncoming vehicle ... (and) motorists have to be aware of the fact that the cyclist may change direction with very little notice," Depatie said.

"It's a shared responsibility between the individual motorist and the cyclist to act in each other's best interest, in terms of being responsible while operations their vehicles."

Tips for safe cycling

For Don and Diane Sauve, responsible cycling includes:

  • Having flashing lights on the bike
  • Riding in a straight line as much as possible and avoiding making sudden swerves
  • Wearing reflective clothing at night
  • Affixing a rear-view mirror to the bike or helmet
  • Always wearing a helmet

Don's advice for drivers, as someone with experience on both two and four wheels, is to give cyclists at least their required one-metre shoulder space on the road and keeping a fair distance before sounding their horns, if they need to get the attention of a cyclist.

That said, he asserts that the majority of drivers and cyclists respect each other's rights to ride the northern roads and he expects a pleasant season this year.

"We should be alright to cooperate and with COVID, let's all ... be safe and exercise," Don said.