New Brunswick

Death of 2 cyclists this month shows a culture shift is needed, advocate says

A cycling advocate in Saint John says people should have the option to bike safely when they can't afford a car but still need to get to work or find a job.

'Every single collision is preventable,' says Nick Cameron

Codiac Regional RCMP, Moncton Fire Department and Ambulance New Brunswick responded after a 60-year-old man, who had been driving an electric bike, died in a collision with a truck. (Wade Perry)

A cycling advocate in Saint John says people should have the option to bike safely when they can't afford a car but still need to get to work or find a job.

Responding to the deaths of two cyclists in recent weeks in Saint John and Moncton, Nick Cameron said car culture needs to change in order to prevent fatal collisions on New Brunswick roads.

He said people need to stop thinking a few cyclists dying in crashes is par for the course.

"We as a community should be championing those people, not discouraging it or getting upset because it makes us uncomfortable on the road," he told Information Morning Saint John.

"It's heartbreaking."

On Oct. 13, 21-year-old Hunter Seguin of Timmins, Ont. was killed in a collision with a delivery truck on the 400 block of Westmorland Road in Saint John.

Exactly a week later, a 60-year-old cyclist was killed in a crash involving a truck on Connaught Avenue in Moncton.

Nick Cameron of Saint John Cycling says a culture shift is badly needed, where people no longer think cyclists dying in crashes is par for the course. (Submitted by Nick Cameron)

The Saint John Police Force said the death of Seguin is under investigation, and RCMP are investigating the death of the 60-year-old man.

Cameron said it's easy to blame the driver or the cyclist, or even think fatal accidents are just going to happen, but none of that is helpful nor enough to change the culture.

"We're frustrated. We're trying to find answers for this. And it's easy to say that, 'Well, we need more enforcement, or the road design is bad, or I bet they weren't wearing a helmet or I bet the driver was looking at their phone,'" he said.

"At a macro level, all of those are true."

Cameron said police investigations take a long time, which is a barrier to seeing real change as a result of cycling deaths.

He said roads and streets are not designed for safe, active transportation like walking or cycling and drivers seem unaware of simple strategies to share the road.

Cameron said it would help if drivers had more respect for bicycles, and brushed up on how to pass bikes safely. The key, he said, is to slow down. It's also good for cyclists to remind themselves of the rules of the road as well.

The organization Velo NB has a manual that's available online, he said.

Cameron said he's encouraged by protected bike lanes being added to some Saint John streets such as University Avenue and Main Street, and is happy to hear about the speed limit reductions that are coming to a number of streets across the city. 

"But like workplace safety, it has to be an ongoing effort," he said.

"Every time something like this happens, I think as a community we need to assess how it happened … Every single collision is preventable."