Saskatoon Cycles recentlt wrote an open letter to city council asking that some roads be closed to cars so that there was more space for cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist while maintaining physical distance. (Black Press Media files)

Saskatoon Cycles recentlt wrote an open letter to city council asking that some roads be closed to cars so that there was more space for cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist while maintaining physical distance. (Black Press Media files)

Cycling advocates say a different mindset is needed for people taking it up

Cyclists have seen a visible increase in bike usage during the pandemic

David Shellnutt and Cathy Watts want new cyclists to try and change the way they think before hitting the road.

Shellnutt and Watts are cycling advocates focused on helping Canadians stay safe as biking grows in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic with people trying to stay active but physically distant. They also expect that more people will choose cycling as a commuting alternative to public transit as the weather warms up and the country continues to reopen.

“It’s really important to do (cycle) safely and always be vigilant,” said Shellnutt, a Toronto-based lawyer that specializes in cycling accidents. “Cycling is fun, but car drivers in Ontario are very often careless and negligent.”

Watts, who is co-chair of Saskatoon Cycles, believes that an important safety step is for novice bikers to stop planning their route as if they were in a car — in other words, stay off of major thoroughfares.

“Take the residential, quiet roads. They’re so quiet, you’re going to feel so happy,” said Watts. “Figure out where you’re going to have to cross the major arterial roads, where there’s going to be a traffic light and a walkway for you to get across.”

Both Shellnutt and Watts say they’ve seen a visible increase in bike usage during the pandemic. To that end, Saskatoon Cycles wrote an open letter to city council asking that some roads be closed to cars so that there was more space for cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist while maintaining physical distance.

That anecdotal evidence is backed up by Brodie Wallace, the category merchandise manager for Mountain Equipment Co-op, one of the largest bike retailers in Canada. He says that across the country there has been a notable uptick in sales for bicycles and safety accessories like helmets, lights, and reflective bands.

Wallace says that during the first weeks of the pandemic kids bikes were the biggest sellers, suggesting parents were looking for something to keep their children active after schools closed. But as lockdowns have worn on, road bicycles in adult sizes have become more popular.

“I think that any time that we can help a Canadian become more active outside, whether that takes the form of commuting, as opposed to transit, it’s a wonderful thing,” said Wallace from Vancouver. “It’s a wonderful thing to see people use transit instead of cars because it’s much less pollution.”

Shellnutt leads workshops for cyclists across southern Ontario on what to do in the event of an accident, helping them understand their legal rights with an eye on safety. With the pandemic limiting public gatherings, Shellnutt is hosting a virtual workshop with the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation on Thursday.

In the unfortunate event of an accident, Shellnutt says a cyclist’s first priority should be to get off the road and assess their medical condition as best they can. If they can’t get off the road or are unable to assess their condition they should ask for a passerby to call for an ambulance.

He says the next step is to gather information about the accident as quickly as possible to help the cyclist access health care and lost wage benefits.

Finally, Shellnutt says an injured cyclist should try to find out who hit them so they can pursue them in court, if necessary.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Cycling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Paramedic Jason Manuel, dressed in PPE, inspects an ambulance at Station 341 on Nov. 30. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Second wave, twice the anxiety; Okanagan paramedics reflect on pandemic from the front line

‘I don’t know who that (next) person is going to be, I don’t want it to be me or my family’: Paramedic

Police responded to W.L. Seaton Secondary after reports of young man attempting to smash car windows in the student parking lot on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Facebook)
Case of COVID-19 at Vernon high school

Member of W.L. Seaton Secondary exposure Nov. 26

The Vernon Girls Trumpet Band held their first indoor practice at the old Canadian Tire building on 27th Street Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. The band is in search of a new 'forever home' to hold indoor rehearsals ahead of winter. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon Girls Trumpet Band turns page on 2020

Calendars benefit Vernon Trumpet Band, O’Keefe Ranch

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
First long-term care resident dies from COVID-19 in Interior Health

Man in his 80s dies following virus outbreak at Mountainview Village

(File)
One death and 82 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

1,981 total cases, 609 are active and those individuals are on isolation

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP was called to a report of a fight at an Okanagan Landing Halloween party Saturday, Oct. 31, but issued the homeowner a ticket  under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act for having too many people at the party. (Black Press file photo)
West Kelowna man, dog rescued from carbon monoxide poisoning

The man was quickly transported to the hospital

The aftermath of the 3 a.m. fire in Keremeos. (Keremeos Fire Department)
Fire and explosion wakes Keremeos residents

A motorhome was consumed and a boat severely damaged after the 3 a.m. fire

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

The former BC Tree Fruits office building at 1473 Water Street has been sold. (Contributed)
BC Tree Fruits downtown Kelowna office sold for $7.5M

Historic building sold for 44 per cent more than the $5.2-million asking price

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Margaret Holm
HOLM: Better Bicycle Lanes

Margaret Holm writes about solutions to global warming

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read