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SHARE THE ROAD

- Health Unit Issues Reminder About New Rules to Better Protect Cyclists and Motorists on Area Roadways -

(HALIBURTON COUNTY) – Whether traveling on two or four wheels, local health officials are counting on all road users to follow the rules of the road to keep everyone safe this summer.

Changes made last year to the Highway Traffic Act are worth mentioning again in 2016, especially with the increasing popularity of cycling in this area, according to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. The message is also timely with June being officially declared Bike Month in Ontario.

“We know that the Haliburton Highlands are becoming a more popular place for cycling, so it’s important to know the rules so that area roadways are safer for all of us,” says Sue Shikaze, a Health Promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit.

One of the major changes made to Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act is the requirement for motorists to leave at least one metre of clearance between their vehicles and any bikes they are passing on the road. Fines have also been increased for ‘dooring’ – a situation in which a motorist doesn’t look and opens a car door in front of a cyclist.

Cyclists also face greater scrutiny under the changes. For example, they face increased fines for failing to use proper lights and reflectors on their bikes when needed. However, cyclists are now permitted to use flashing rear red lights on their bikes.

“We need to remember that both cyclists and motorists have a shared responsibility for safety… to share the road and be courteous and respectful of each other,” Shikaze notes. “Put simply, it’s the same roads, same rules, and same rights.”

She encourages motorists to be extra watchful when approaching a cyclist. Drivers should not only slow down and give at least one metre clearance when passing a bike, they should only pass when the road ahead is clear of oncoming traffic. “Drivers should never honk at a cyclist, and yield to bicyclists when turning,” Shikaze adds. “Remember that cyclists are more vulnerable road users than someone who operates a motor vehicle.”

Cyclists also need to do their part to share the road by obeying all traffic laws, signs and signals, and always riding on the right in the same direction as traffic. Cyclists are further encouraged signal all turns, ride straight in a predictable manner, use a properly-fitting bike helmet, and be visible by wearing bright colours and using lights – especially in the early evening and night.

As a visual reminder for motorists and cyclists to share space on the road, Shikaze points to the yellow Share the Road signs that have been installed along area roadways frequently used by cyclists. “The signs speak to the need for both drivers and cyclists to respect each other’s right to be on the road,” she says.

For more safety tips, visit Share the Road or contact the Health Unit at (705) 457-1391 or by clicking here.

For media inquiries, contact:

Sue Shikaze, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 457-1391.

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