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July 29, 2008


Frank Xavier

Profoundly sad ! In primary school, we received much safety information on the dangers associated with crossing railway tracks and/or playing on railway tracks.

This information included auditorium movies(dating myself) which dramatized the dangers and emphasized proper behavior. This accident is a classic...which was one of the most strongly emphasized in the antique safety films we received.

Just goes to show that once upon a time when car ownership was not universal, the bicycle was the most common other mode of transport besides public transport. In this context, the bicycle was dealt with seriously along with the risks and dangers. Rules of the road were taught. People generally knew that a bicycle was a legitimate transportation vehicle. Drivers generally treated bicycles with respect as a lot of people were on the streets on bicycles going to work or doing errands.

Now the bicycle has devolved to a toy...and toys have no place on the public roads...and why would we want to use up valuable school time to teach young people the proper way of riding bicycles and conducting themselves on the road ? This unfortunate example is the consequences of abandoning bicycle eduction in school. It is the rare parent today who could properly educate their children on bicycle use on the road.

F. Xavier


Frank observes that, "It is the rare parent today who could properly educate their children on bicycle use on the road."

How true! Let's carry this examination a bit further though with respect to cycling skills training and education generally.

It is most unfortunate that there are very few who are qualified to teach bicycling skills, or safe bicycling practices. These few are the CAN-BIKE certified instructors, found only in small numbers in larger centres such as Toronto and Ottawa.

In addition to being certified, oversight is provided by a "college" of CAN-BIKE senior instructors, similar to any other professional governance body.

Something else that's quite relevant too is that all CAN-BIKE instructors are also experienced cyclists.

There is no other qualification process for cycling instruction in Canada.

I'm all for cycling skills training and education. One challenge among many is to create and sustain a pool of instructors.

This, of course, requires organization and funding at a regional/municipal level. In turn, this requires some department or organization to step forward and take on the task.

In a related note, I'd observe that bicycle "safety rodeos" run by volunteers of various sorts, including the police forces in many areas, well-intentioned though they may be, simply don't do the job. The instructors are neither certified nor, in the majority of cases, experienced cyclists.

I do note that in Alberta, police officers conducting such clinics must be CAN-BIKE certified, which is a positive step forward.

Sometimes, the sad truth stemming from fatal misadventures is that they're launching points for positive movements seeking to avert future tragedy. Let's see our Region's transportation, public health (charged with education), and school administrations team together and step up to the plate.

Better education and training may or may not avert all such tragedies, yet surely it can help lower the overall rate.

Martin Reis

Hi Bill,
Thank you ... fine blog and advocacy.
My name is Martin Reis, I am a member of ARC (Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists) in Toronto. We have been doing memorials for cyclists killed in traffic in Toronto since 1996. In their memory we have created a Google Map for the public to share, etc.

Safe rides,


Certification and instruction aren't what's needed. Sad as it is, the child disregarded common safety measures. I'm not sure instruction would have prevented this accident... it's was basically the same disregard as driving through a red light.

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Bill Bean

  • North America is eventually going to figure out that, for all the right reasons, we need more bicycles on our roads. Dust off your bicycle and go cycling. And if the gas-burning dinosaurs start to crowd you, it's your road and you paid for it. Take the lane for yourself.

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