Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pedaling In Montreal, a dangerous sport

Pedaling In Montreal, a dangerous sport. says La Presse newspaper in a report on Montreal's 2007 road safety statistics.

Here's the numbers for cyclists in 2007:

  • 4 cyclists died
  • 27 cyclists were gravely injured
  • 766 Cyclists light injuries
That's almost 800 cyclists, and there were also 1513 pedestrians injured. And those were only the reported injuries, we are sure that there were many unreported injuries, so that's a lot of people who had their day, summer, or life ruined.

Here's the list of things you can get a ticket for, because they are dangerous to both the cyclist and the people they can injure.

  • Riding on the sidewalk
  • Riding against the traffic (i.e. the wrong side of the road)
  • Riding while drunk
  • Riding side-by-side (always ride single file)
  • Riding without the required visibility equipment (reflectors/lights)
  • Carrying a passenger
  • Riding with a music player (not legal, and not smart!)
It's not a legal requirement, but wearing a helmet in the city is an act of displaying sanity. In the 28 years of wearing a helmet, I can say that I only needed it once. But since we cannot predict when that one-second-oh-my-god-aieeeeeee-of-our-life will occur, so we always wear a helmet when we ride our bicycle. And from our experience, it can happen within 2 minutes of home, so we wear helmets for really short trips too.

Back to the article, the report continues to say that other forms of road safety have improved over the last decade. But cycling accidents have not improved. Why?

Partly the network of bicycle paths has not been improved over the last decade (note: after a decade of neglect, the city has begun improving the network starting in 2007, and this should improve things in the near future)

Partly, the number of cyclists has increased each year. With gasoline at record prices, the increase in people using bicycles as their daily transportation vehicle will probably continue.

But with increased numbers of bicyclists, there is a certain number who don't know or respect any "rules of the road." These people are a hazard to the rest of us. We have witnessed every form of dangerous riding possible, but most of them stem from one simple act: taking a shortcut, and trying to save a minute of red light, or ten seconds of stopping at a stop sign, not walking when you reach the sidewalk of the destination. Don't ride on the sidewalk, please, NEVER!

We always stop and wait at busy red lights. Sometimes this is hard, when it is empty and we can see there are no cars or pedestrians.

In 2008 we are following the principle of YIELDING to other road users at stop signs and red lights. The person who was there first gets the priority, and we let them go first. Pedestrians have the highest priority: and it is not cool to play chicken with people on foot. This also surprises the people walking and makes them happy. It feels good to make someone happy, so I always yield to pedestrians, and we share this freshly created happiness.

Life is good, summer weather is appearing, and Montreal is a fun and great place to live, work, and ride a bike.

Let's make 2008 the year when we all try to ride a little safer, ok?

Here's the start to the article, and you can read the whole thing here on their Cyberpresse website (link). We recommend La Presse for it's excellent journalism and local news coverage.

Pédaler à Montréal, un sport dangereux

Catherine Handfield

La Presse

La saison du vélo s’ouvre sur une mise en garde cette année. Alors que le bilan routier à Montréal s’améliore pour les automobilistes et les piétons, les cyclistes victimes d’accidents sont toujours aussi nombreux, selon les chiffres compilés pour La Presse.

En 2007, 797 cyclistes ont été blessés dans des collisions avec des véhicules dans l’île de Montréal, selon les rapports colligés par le SPVM. Ce total, qui englobe les blessures mineures, graves et fatales, frôle la moyenne des cinq dernières années, qui s’établit à 804 victimes.

Les cyclistes ont tout à envier aux automobilistes et aux piétons. Montréal compte 15% moins de victimes automobilistes en 2007 que la moyenne des cinq dernières années, selon le bilan de la Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec. Et du côté des piétons, on note une amélioration de 10%, avec un total de 1513 victimes en 2007.

Infrastructures insuffisantes

Comment expliquer l’absence de progrès chez les cyclistes?

«Il y a plus de cyclistes sur nos routes, mais les infrastructures n’ont pas suivi, répond le directeur des relations publiques de Vélo Québec, Patrick Howe. Ça fait près de 20 ans que le réseau cyclable n’a pratiquement pas évolué.»

Aujourd’hui, 110 000 Montréalais utilisent le vélo comme principal moyen de transport, selon Vélo Québec. Et ils se partagent 400 km de voies cyclables rarement connectées les unes aux autres.

«L’un de nos objectifs est de doubler les voies cyclables en sept ans, de les améliorer et d’assurer la continuité du réseau», répond le responsable de l’aménagement urbain et du transport collectif à la Ville, André Lavallée. Il précise que le Plan de transport sera adopté dans les prochaines semaines et qu’il y aura d’importantes annonces.

Au SPVM, le commandant Daniel Touchette, du module Sécurité routière et Circulation, promet des opérations de sensibilisation. L’an dernier, les policiers ont émis 1884 contraventions aux cyclistes, comparativement à 8907 aux piétons.

Arrondissements plus risqués

Les accidents impliquant des cyclistes varient d’un arrondissement à l’autre, selon une étude de la Direction de la santé publique de Montréal publiée en 2005.

Entre 1999 et 2003, près de 30% des accidents qui ont nécessité l’appel d’une ambulance se sont produits dans Ville-Marie–Centre-Sud et dans le Plateau-Mont-Royal.

Les intersections particulièrement dangereuses? L’angle Du Parc et Mont-Royal, et l’angle Viger et Berri, où se situe d’ailleurs une piste cyclable.

We have always noticed the immense danger of the Berri-Viger intersection, but we are surprised that Parc and Mt-Royal is dangerous, so we went and took a look.


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