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News Release

Road safety, not just helmets, needed to reduce bike collisions: health unit

Jul 04, 2012
The health unit is supporting a call for improved road design, bike lanes and a provincial cycling plan as recommended in a recent report from the Ontario Chief Coroner.

The health unit is supporting a call for improved road design, bike lanes and a provincial cycling plan as recommended in a recent report from the Ontario Chief Coroner.

Most media coverage of the Cycling Death Review report, which reviewed 129 cycling fatalities in Ontario between 2006 and 2010, focused on a call for mandatory use of bicycle helmets, but Simcoe Muskoka Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner says there are 13 other recommendations of equal importance.

“A bicycle helmet can prevent serious or fatal injury in a collision,” Dr. Gardner said. “But there are recommendations in this report that could prevent the collision from happening in the first place.”

The panel assembled by the Chief Coroner’s Office to review the deaths began its research with the theory that cycling fatalities were preventable. “This hypothesis held true in each and every death we reviewed,” the report states.

Helmets, Dr. Gardner said, are the last line of defence and only of benefit during a collision or fall from a bicycle.

“A well designed road network can do more than improve cycling safety,” Gardner said. “When the public feels safer on their bike, they are more likely to ride. This is a critical way to increase the level of physical activity in our communities, and improve overall health over the long term.

“A road is not just a space built for machines; it’s built for people.”

The report’s recommendations were based on the modifiable factors that led to the fatal accidents in the review. Some of the recommendations included:

  • Adoption of a “complete streets” approach to road and community design, respecting the safety of all road users whether they’re in vehicles or moving around under their own power.
  • An Ontario Cycling Plan to guide creation of policy, legislation, and funding for infrastructure to support cycling.
  • A major safety education and awareness strategy beginning in schools and included as part of new and used bicycle purchases and the Ontario driver’s licence test.
  • Mandatory side-guards for heavy trucks.

“The report’s recommendations are consistent with our own guidelines for official plan policies, which have been circulated to our municipalities,” Gardner added.

For more information about cycling safety, visit the website www.simcoemuskokahealth.org, or call Your Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 


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