Const. Andrew Carter with the RCMP has been in Thompson for about six months now and one thing he’s noticed is the lack of bicycle safety in the city. In bigger cities, as well as smaller towns, Carter says he always sees it, and wants to help educate people so cyclists don’t end up in accidents with brain damage.
When Carter was riding his bike in Calgary a car struck him, resulting in his head smashing into the hood of the car, creating a big dent, and splitting his helmet down the middle. If his helmet was not on, that could have been his head, and ever since then it has been Carter’s mission to educate people on bicycle safety.
The most well-known issue surrounds helmets. It’s law that anyone under the age of 18 has to wear a helmet, but Carter urges every single person riding a bike to put their head in a helmet, as it’s like a seatbelt for your head. For people who cannot afford a helmet, the province has started a low-cost helmet program, which is run through schools. Anyone can contact their school, and state they need bike helmets, and if approved can be eligible for a $15 dollar helmet.
The second is where one is supposed to ride a bike. Contrary to many people’s thoughts where you ride your bike is not based on age, but how big your tires are. “It all depends on the size of your rear wheel. 410 mm or 19 inches, like those BMX bikes can ride on the sidewalks, but if it’s over that you have to ride on the road. When you’re on the road you have to follow the rules of the road,” explained Carter.
In the Highway Traffic Act it says it’s mandatory that people signal while on their bikes, which Carter says rarely happens. Cyclists must signal when they’re turning right, left or stopping so other vehicles know what they’re doing. If a biker is going to be wearing headphones, it’s legal to wear one ear bud, but not two. A cyclist has to be able to hear what is going on around them, and be mindful of the other modes of transportation and pedestrians.
Finally one of the main issues regarding biking in the evening is visibility. It’s a requirement to have a headlight, and bikers are also encouraged to have rear wheel reflectors, as well as wearing bright coloured clothes.
Carter took part in a law enforcement course focusing on bike patrol, and says the best thing he learned was the need to be seen and be predictable, and he hopes others take that into consideration.
Thompson RCMP has a bike patrol, and RCMP are travelling throughout the community educating people on bike safety. “It’s the need to be safe. My concern isn’t writing people tickets, or anything like that, I just don’t want people to get hit by cars. We’ve seen it a few times this summer, and it’s one of those things that isn’t supposed to happen,” Carter says.