Failing to follow the rules of the road is about to become a costly mistake for Tofitian cyclists.
Tofino’s police are preparing to crack down on the cycling infractions they believe have become rampant in town and have launched a new Safe Cycling Campaign they say will begin with an educational ‘warning phase.’
“Following the initial phase of the campaign, cyclists who continue to ignore the requirements of the motor vehicle act can expect to be issued a violation ticket,” read an April 18 statement from the local detachment. “Some of the most commonly observed offences include failure to wear the required helmet, failure to comply with traffic control devices, such as stop signs, failure to utilize the required hand signals and riding on the wrong side of the road.”
Cpl. Stu Hert of the Tofino RCMP told the Westerly News that he hopes the safety campaign will lead to a chain reaction of safe cycling practices, which he believes are currently lacking in Tofino.
“We’ve noticed that there’s very low compliance rates,” he said.
“There’s big concerns with ignoring stop signs and not wearing helmets. In a busy day during the summer, some of the four-way stops here in town can become almost like a game of chance…Cyclists blasting through at the last minute just exacerbates that issue.”
Under the Motor Vehicle Act, bicyclists can be fined $29 for not wearing a helmet, $95 for “careless cycling” and $95 for riding without a light at night.
Hert acknowledged that cracking through the culture of many local cyclists who have become accustomed to not wearing helmets will be tough, but said police “don’t shy away from a challenge,” and added that helmets are vital safety devices for cyclists.
“It’s a best practice anytime you’re on a bike and it’s a legal requirement anytime you’re on a public roadway,” he said.
“You can crash on the MUP [Multi-Use Path] just as easily as you can crash on the road and the MUP is made of the same asphalt as the road, so your head is going to suffer the same damage…Brain injuries are for life.”
Tofino mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly that she’s glad to see the RCMP focused on cycling safety.
“I’d love to see more Tofitians get out of their cars and use their bikes when they can, it’s a fun and healthy alternative to driving. Reminding drivers and cyclists of the rules of the road will help keep us all safe since, just like driving, cycling comes with responsibilities too,” she said.
“Myself, I choose to wear a helmet almost all of the time, because I’d rather be safe than sorry. I don’t think there can be much comfort with adults going without helmets until we see a lot more safe, separate bicycling infrastructure as well as a big shift in car culture in which drivers are more accepting and encouraging of cyclists.”
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