Riding safe: the APCW’s
cycling education program
The Association’s collaborations with the SPVM and Westmount promote cycling safety
By Daniel Lambert
One of the mail goals of the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists of Westmount (APCW) is to promote safe cycling through its education program. Collaborating with the SPVM, the Association has participated in numerous sessions informing cyclists about safety along the de Maisonneuve bike path. As well, the APCW instigated a safe cycling course, now in its 5th year, for children aged 8 to 12 years old, with support from the City of Westmount.
Cyclists without lights at night are a safety concern for pedestrians, drivers and other cyclists. This is particularly a problem when cyclists are dressed in dark colours and riding along streets that are not well lit. Currently, too many cyclists ride at night without lights.
The Highway Safety Code specifies that cyclists must have lights at night. Under the new Highway Safety Code, as of May 18, the cost of tickets to cyclists without lights will increase from $35 to $130 (including administration fees).
SPVM and APCW collaboration
The APCW has been cooperating with the SPVM to help address this problem. During the last week of April and the first week of May, Police officers from Westmount’s Station 12 and NDG’s Station 11, along with APCW members, have been informing cyclists of the requirement for lights.
The Police are now starting to ticket cyclists in Westmount, and a Montreal-wide ticketing campaign for bike lights is planned for October 2018, when it is dark during the evening rush hour. In Westmount, efforts will be focussed on the busy de Maisonneuve bike path.
The APCW has been monitoring compliance for several years. While the compliance rate has been slowly improving, last fall it was still only 65%. The latest count shows that compliance along the de Maisonneuve bike path is now up to 75%, no doubt due to recent Police and Association efforts.
The hope is to achieve a compliance rate of 80% in Westmount this spring, which would put Westmount significantly ahead of other parts of Montreal, which are typically in the 55% range.
The latest count shows that compliance along the de Maisonneuve bike path is now up to 75%, no doubt due to recent Police and Association efforts.
The Association will continue monitoring compliance monthly to see if the latest improvement is sustained.
Further improvement is expected in the fall although 100% compliance will be difficult to achieve since bikes are sold without lights, lights are not required during the day and light batteries wear out.
Cycling safety course for children
Each May, the APCW gives a 4-week cycling education course to about 25 Westmount kids from 8 to 12 years of age, as part of Westmount’s Sports and Recreation program. This year, the first session on May 8 at the Westmount Recreation Centre included the Police explaining the Highway Safety Code, and a mechanic checking the kids’ bikes.
‘An important part of the course is explaining to the young cyclists the importance of respecting other road users – pedestrians, other cyclists and drivers.’
The subsequent sessions will teach riding skills to the kids, focusing on how to be a safe cyclist in the city. An important part of the course is explaining to the young cyclists the importance of respecting other road users – pedestrians, other cyclists and drivers.
To help make the kids more sensitive to the concerns of seniors, a couple of members of Contactivity were invited to the first session to explain why seniors sometimes find cyclists scary. The kids were reminded that, as people get older, their eyesight, hearing and balance could be affected, so they are not as aware of approaching cyclists and not able to react as fast. Also discussed were the potential consequences of a fall, like a broken hip. Despite the serious nature of the talk, it was fun to see the interaction between the seniors and the kids on a safety topic.
Three ways to make cycling safe
Looking at the bigger picture, there are three ways to make cycling safe – the 3 Es – and the APCW is active on all three:
Engineering – This is mainly about adding safe cycling infrastructure. That is why the APCW encourages the city to make all Westmount streets safe for pedestrians and cyclists, mainly by adding more bike paths.
Education – In addition to the APCW course, Vélo Québec gives a course at École Saint-Leon.
Enforcement – The APCW encourages the SPVM to give warnings and tickets to cyclists for dangerous behaviour.
For more information visit the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists of Westmount (APCW) web site at acwestmount.wordpress.com
Read also: Westmount’s safe cycling ambassadors
Daniel Lambert is a founder and President of the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists of Westmount (APCW), whose mission is to promote walking and cycling.