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Changing the fair-weather cyclist culture

Oak Bay Police can claim a program with 100 per cent compliance.

They embarked on a plan to get cyclists safer last year, first initiating a helmet program, then adding a lights initiative.

Both are seeing success.

“We’re changing users behaviours,” said Const. Rick Anthony, community liaison officer. “We’ve changed the mindset, riding culture with the one-year program.”

Under Operation Headstart launched late last summer, Oak Bay police officers offer cyclists flaunting the law of wearing a helmet a slight reprieve. If the cyclist breaking the law doesn’t own a helmet, he or she gets an opportunity to go out and buy one in lieu of a fine. The operation is so far at 70 per cent compliance.

But that is only a $29 fine, Anthony noted.

When the fine outweighs the remedy four-to-one, the odds of compliance go sky high; Project Lumiere, which launched in February, boasts a 100 per cent compliance rate to date.

That bike safety program offers riders found without adequate lighting at night an opportunity to go out and prove they’ve purchased some in order to avoid the $129 ticket.

“We didn’t see as much of it in winter,” Anthony said. “It’s the more casual riders, who aren’t the adamant, sunshine or rain rider (who break the laws).”

Originally Project Lumiere was to end after spring break, but Oak Bay Police extended it to a full year.

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