Two recent incidents in Quebec highlight the dangers of cycling.
The first incident involved six cyclists from the Club de Triathlon, St. Lambert. The cyclists were entangled in a scene of carnage on a Quebec highway last Friday. Three women died. A pickup truck hit the group of riders along a dangerous section of Highway 112 in Rougement, just south of Montreal.
And another cyclist, a 57-year-old male, was killed after a collision with a car driven by a 44-year-old drunk drive. This happened on Highway 117 near Val Morin.
Eleanor McMahon, Founder of Share the Road, had this to say about the recent tragedies: “We really do have a shared vulnerability. Do you know of another pastime where you pack ID before you head out on the road in case you get run over and don”™t see your loved ones again?”? Her husband, OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart, was struck and killed by a vehicle in a cycling collision.
I know it sounds morbid but I carry my contact information in a couple of places when I ride: on a label inside my helmet and on a card inside my saddle. I let my family know which loop I am riding and about how long it should take to complete the loop. I always carry a cellphone with me when I ride. And when I ride, I am very aware of my surroundings and I practice defensive riding. Most cars will provide a generous and wide berth when passing however, on every ride, there will always be at least one driver intent on cutting as close to my left side as possible. If there is a strong headwind, I may not hear that car coming up behind me. Fortunately I ride loops where there is generally little traffic and the shoulders are pretty generous. But I always focus on keeping a true line as close to the side of the road as possible.
I am confident on a bike. I do not worry about the potential danger when I am out on the road. I know that cycling at the speed I ride requires an elevated level of skill and a particular focus and attention to detail to ensure a safe ride. However, there is little that can be done to safeguard against a drunk driver or a driver so intent on talking on their cellphone that they are swerving all over the road. I see far more of the latter than the former these days.