Monday, September 25, 2023
September 25, 2023

Cyclist urges drivers to be more careful on the road

A Salt Spring woman says she is giving up on bike riding after being injured in an incident on Ganges Hill on Thursday morning.

Janice Parker, 59, was riding her e-bike into town from her Bishop’s Walk home at about 9 a.m. when she lost control and ended up on the ground after a vehicle almost hit her near the former Seabreeze Inne. Parker said she was riding on the white line of Fulford-Ganges Road — “because one foot over is gravel” — when a dark-coloured Tesla didn’t move out of the lane at all as it passed her.

“They were about two centimetres away from my handlebars,” she said. “It unsettled me and I just went down.”

After Parker fell she could see another car coming and felt sure it would run her over, but it instead swerved to miss her and then the driver stopped to help.

“I’m happy I had a helmet on,” she said, adding that she thinks she “rode along” on the helmet for a ways before coming to a stop.

Thankfully Parker didn’t break any bones, but on Friday she had a very sore hip and a number of abrasions.

A teacher-librarian at Fernwood Elementary School, when Parker moved to Salt Spring seven years ago she thought she would be riding her bike every day, and even envisioned travelling to school on pedal power. But the more she biked around the island, the more her fear level gradually increased. One Saturday Market day she almost collided with a car door suddenly opened by a person parked on Ganges Hill.

After Thursday’s incident, she said she just can’t take the risk of being injured while cycling.

And, she added, “I hate to hear about the next [incident].”

Parker praised the emergency responders and hospital staff who treated her.

“The emergency room staff are working their buns off and they are amazing. The kindness was still there. I really appreciate the whole medical community here. They are top notch.”

Improvements will be coming to the area where Parker was injured. A major upgrade of Fulford-Ganges Road between Seaview Avenue and Cranberry Road is set to be complete by the fall of 2024 with a 1.2-metre (3.9-foot) paved shoulder on both sides of the road. However, as Island Pathways board member Simon Rompre points out in the Viewpoint piece on page 4 of this week’s paper, 1.5 metres (4.9 feet) is the provincial standard for cycling lanes.

“While the cycling community applauds the plans for an extended 1.2-metre shoulder on each side, the provincial recommendation for shoulder width is 1.5 metres and, as a result, even with the new upgrade, we are still dealing with a potentially dangerous situation,” he wrote.

A March 2023 Salt Spring Island Cycling Safety Review study done for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure by contractor Urban Systems found a number of ways to improve safety for cyclists, from more educational signage to regular refreshment of pavement markings, which does not happen at present, to paving upgrades and shoulder widening in specific areas.

Unfortunately, any improvements may not be enough for once-enthusiastic cyclists like Parker to take to the roads again.


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