Cycling promotes health but can be hazardous

Bikes are frequently used by students to get to Humber College.
(Photo: Natalie Dixon) Bikes are frequently used by students to get to Humber College. (Photo: Natalie Dixon)

Natalie Dixon
News Reporter

Thirty-year-old Hardeep Singh Pahra, a husband and father of two, was hit and killed by a vehicle on Oct. 29 as he was riding his bike.

Fifty-seven cyclists were killed in Canada in 2011, 62 in 2013, which is 2 per cent of traffic fatalities, according to Transport Canada. Of that percentage, 94 per cent of them were older than 16 and 34 per cent were in the dark hours of the day.

Pahra was biking to work around 6 a.m. when he was hit on Steeles Avenue East in Brampton. Police said they are still investigating.

According to NewYouth.ca, an online community for newcomer youth, bike laws are part of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). The bicycle should be operated just as a vehicle would be. This means stopping at all red lights, stop signs and pedestrian crosswalks. If any of the rules are broken cyclists will be fined just like motorists.

Unlike regular cars, cyclists are not allowed to ride on the highway. By law, cyclists must have a bell or a horn, a front and back light and proper working brakes. In addition, riders under 18 must wear a helmet.

Chris Ramkissoon, a second-year computer-engineering student at Humber College, said Toronto needs safer bike paths and well defined rules.

The biggest risk in biking to school or work is being hit by a car, he said.

Although Ramkissoon is not a cyclist, he said biking is better for the environment.

Christine Crawford, a funeral services student, said traffic should be a main concern for cyclists.

She said cyclists should wear more protective gear. Also, she said there should be more education and awareness.

Chris Glover, president of SpinsanityCycles Inc. in Bradford, Ont., said there are many benefits to cycling as a mode of transportation. They include cost savings on like fuel and parking as well as being a healthful form of physical activity.

Glover said safety is the biggest concern for him. Education is key in ensuring a safer environment for bikers and motorists.

He said bikers should be wearing a helmet and all the proper accessories – bells and reflectors among others, following and knowing all the rules.

SpinsanityCycles Inc. offers services from tune-ups to the sale of accessories and bikes. They also have programs and a group for cyclists new or experienced.

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