Three cyclists are killed and 250 others are injured every year in Manitoba due to collisions with vehicles, according to Manitoba Public Insurance.
MPI and Winnipeg police staged a demonstration on Thursday to show the dangers of vehicle blind spots and how cyclists can avoid a collision.
The event, which had been planned some time ago, comes just as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers put out a public call for the city to review its active transportation routes and ensure cyclists and pedestrians are safe.
The football club was prompted by the death this week of a longtime fan, Dick Stevenson, 69, who was hit en route to a Bomber game on Monday.
"Turning and side-swipe collisions are two of the most common collisions involving cyclists, according to claims data,” said MaryAnn Kempe, MPI's vice president of corporate and community relations.
“Maintaining visibility is vital to preventing these types of collisions, especially when it comes to large vehicles. From a cyclist’s perspective, if you cannot see the driver from where you are on the road, then you also need to assume that they cannot see you."
Cyclist Sheldon Birnie was hit while biking on Osborne Street through Confusion Corner.
“The car kind of went in front of me, cut me off and knocked me off my bike,” said Birnie. “I was fine. The bike was kind of banged up, but I was more just shaken, you know?”
Birnie said the driver just kept driving.
MPI data shows there was an average of 269 bicycle-motor vehicle collisions from 2007-2011, with 98.4 per cent happening in urban centres. About one in 10 cycling collisions took place when the vehicle, or cyclist, was making a left turn across an intersection.
Dave Elmore, CAN-Bike master instructor and former director of safety and education for Bike Winnipeg, said it is crucial that cyclists maintain visibility to drivers.
“When approaching an intersection, bicyclists should always shoulder check and signal before positioning themselves in the middle of the lane. This makes you more visible to both the vehicle in front and behind you, he said.
Under no circumstance should a bike rider ever pass motor vehicles on the right or position themselves to the right of vehicles at an intersection, said Elmore added.
“In this position you put yourself at risk of the driver not knowing that you are there and turning right into you as you try to proceed straight through the intersection. All passing should be done on the left,” he said.
Added Kempe: “As the cycling community grows in numbers, so does the need for an increased awareness of road safety. Knowing the rules of the road and being aware of potential dangers will make our roads safer for everyone.”
MPI’s Ward Keith said drivers and cyclists share responsibility for their safety on the road.
“If the pedestrian or cyclist can’t see the driver, then that driver probably can’t see you,” he said, adding drivers should “look for things other than vehicles around you – whether it’s a motorcyclist or a cyclist or a pedestrian.”
Patrol Sgt. Kevin Cisaroski said the bottom line is: “They’re all preventable with good driving and good behaviour.”