EDITORIAL: Bike Fest alerts us to safety needs

Drivers and cyclists need to share the road

As anyone who attended Oak Bay’s weekend Bike Fest will tell you, cycling is a growing method of transportation in our area.

It’s not just for kids riding to school or weekend family outings anymore.

As more and more of us get out on our bikes for transportation – as well as recreation – events like the Bike Fest become more important.

As many a cyclist will tell you, motorists must become more aware of cyclists in our midst.

A psychological phenomenon called change blindness, the inability of our visual system to detect alterations to something as our attention is diverted, is a frequent cause of mishaps between bikes and drivers. Basically, we’re paying so much attention to drivers in front of us, that we fail to see cyclists beside us.

Getting drivers to change their focus, however, is problematic, so cyclists have to be vigilant in protecting their own safety.

Following the rules of the road is one of the first steps for cyclists to take for their protection. Too often we see cyclists riding without helmets, without lights after dark, on sidewalks, or on the wrong side of the road.

Even those who gear up in bright spandex and flashy reflectors can be seen riding three abreast down narrow rural roads, running through stop signs and dangerously cutting between vehicles.

While the district slowly moves ahead to make cycling in our area safer by adding bike lanes, improving cycling networks, pathways and signage, cyclists and motorists both must work together to allow those who want to ride their bikes in Oak Bay do so safely.

If you missed the Bike Fest, it’s not too late to learn to cycle city streets with confidence. The Bike to Work Skills Course takes adults through common traffic situations that cyclists face. It also provides tips to make cycle commuting a regular part of your life.

The one-day course combines classroom and on road training and runs on Sept. 29 from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Register online at biketowork.ca/victoria/workshops. For more information contact marsha@biketowork.ca.