Another cyclist being injured after a near miss with a vehicle on Ganges Hill last week emphasizes that upgrades to that part of Fulford-Ganges Road cannot happen soon enough.
Widening of the road to include larger paved shoulders has been in the works for close to five years now. When Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming came to Salt Spring Island with MLA Adam Olsen for an ASK Salt Spring session on June 2 — coinciding with a bike rally event that day — the upgrade plans were revealed as fully ripe, with construction set to begin this fall.
The news is extremely welcome, but many more areas need amendments in order to be safer for people who ride bikes on or to this island.
A recently released report — the Salt Spring Island Cycling Safety Review — which was commissioned by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) pinpoints a number of areas on the island where small changes could make a big difference to cyclists’ safety. More signage, ensuring pavement markings are regularly resurfaced, improving pavement quality and reducing areas where pavement abruptly shifts to gravel are a few suggestions in the report.
What really needs to shift, however, is the attitude of vehicle drivers when it comes to safely sharing roadways with cyclists and pedestrians. The Urban Systems report articulated the issue well: “Through conversations with stakeholders, there was a repeated sentiment that there was a strong vehicular culture on the island . . . It was also noted that walking and cycling on island can often feel uncomfortable because motor vehicle drivers are unlikely to slow down or leave much space between themselves and active transportation users they are passing. There were comments that there was a general disregard and lack of care for people walking and cycling on the island.”
Changing one’s driving habits to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians isn’t a gargantuan task and does not add an appreciable amount of time to anyone’s travel schedule. MOTI and others are doing their part to improve safety for cyclists on Salt Spring. Drivers must now fill the rest of the gaping potholes of safety.