Cycling accidents up more than a third in Moncton
Police report 34 accidents in 2016 so far in the greater Moncton area, up 36 per cent from five years ago
The number of accidents involving cyclists in the greater Moncton area has increased more than a third in the last five years, according to data obtained by Radio-Canada.
There have been 148 collisions between cyclists and drivers of motor vehicles since 2012, including 34 so far in 2016, an increase of 36 per cent according to police.
Sgt. André Pepin of the Codiac RCMP said there are several reasons why the number of accidents is going up every year, including more people on the roads. But he said he also continues to see cyclists not following the rules.
''A lot of cyclists don't realize that under the New Brunswick motor vehicle act they have to follow exactly the same rules as any motorist on the road,'' said Pepin.
''We see a lot of cyclists on the sidewalk — not being on the road, coming to an intersection — just going across the intersection, no matter if it's a red light or there's a stop sign.''
Growing number of cyclists
Cory Herc, an avid cyclist and member of the New Brunswick Biking Advocacy group, agrees cyclists need to be more careful, but said we can't lay all the blame on them.
''It is unfortunate that there have been more accidents,'' said Herc. ''I know the city is growing very rapidly, and you're seeing a lot of population coming in and a much younger population than has been here in the past too.''
He said he is seeing a lot more cyclists on the roads than he did five years ago.
''Accidents do happen. I don't think cycling is something that is inherently much more dangerous than any other mode of transportation. I really hope that people can move past that.''
Herc said he has noticed a safety in numbers effect in other cities and is hoping the same will happen here.
''As visibility increases through more people on the road, drivers become more aware — people in the city in general become more aware of cyclists and the space they occupy on the road, and so the number of deaths and the number of injuries drops as more people come on the road,'' said Herc.
Need more reserved lanes
Herc believes the city is moving in a positive direction, but said more work still needs to be done.
''We have a lot of cyclists that want to ride on the roads but feel that the infrastructure may not be there yet,'' said Herc.
The city of Moncton has 70 kilometres of protected bike lanes, and said it is planning to add another 35 kilometres in the next few years.
Benoit LeBlanc, a graduate student in engineering who is also a member of the New Brunswick Biking Advocacy Group, hopes the city is strategic about where it will build those lanes.
''We would like to see more cycling infrastructure where it matters the most,'' said LeBlanc. "On the larger streets and on the streets with the most traffic. That's the places often where there is less cycling infrastructure.''
''We tend to focus more on outside paths, like the riverfront path or the path that goes to the industrial park,'' said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc and Herc's group has had representatives at budget consultations in both Moncton and Fredericton to talk about how cyclist safety can be improved.