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Cyclists in Belleville say local roads are a hazard

By: Kristen Oelschlagel

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BELLEVILLE, ON (06/05/12) Members of the Chaingang Bicycle Club start out on their Sunday ride. Photo by Kristen Oelschlagel.

Cyclists are back on their bikes thanks to the warm weather, but around Belleville they need to be constantly watching their backs.

With an increase in the number of cyclists on the streets, the need for safe places for them to bike also increases. Chaingang Bicycle Club member Steve Cornall said the roads in Belleville are not safe for cyclists.

“There’s no a good lane for a bike to go down and there are lots of hazards along the edge of the road that cyclists have to go around,” Cornall said.

“If your tires get caught you’re going to wipe out and if there’s a car there you’re going to get hurt.”

It’s not uncommon to see cyclists around the city; some even use it as a daily means of transportation. Tyler Allsopp, employee at Doug’s Bicycle Shop in Belleville, said the number of customers they get is growing every year suggesting cycling in the area is becoming increasingly popular.

Bev Hanna-Jones agrees that the city streets are not as safe for cyclists as they could be. Jones runs a cycling group in the area called the Cyclopaths. She said there needs to be more awareness, the road conditions alone are not to blame.

“I don’t think motorists know how to share the road, and I don’t know if all cyclists know how to share the road,” said Jones.

“We don’t know all the rules so we make up our own as motorists and cyclists.”

Jones said that bike lanes and bicycle paths would be great but educating the public is key.

“Educate people about what a cycling path is, that it needs to be shared and how it’s shared. Create a bike lane but then teach the public what it is and how it works and why it works when it works well.”

Lynn Noonan, member of the Chaingang Bicycle Club, said Belleville is a great place to ride. She said it doesn’t take long to get out of the city where the roads aren’t as busy but in the city there can be problems.

“In the city the roads some of the roads are in bad condition. Sometimes we have to go out in the passing lane where sometimes drivers don’t like us there,” Noonan said.

“One time a guy in a pick-up truck went by us, then went on the gravel deliberately to get the dust and everything up. Sometimes people honk like we aren’t supposed to be on the road.”

Noonan said the city could help by making motorists aware that cyclists are allowed to be on the roads too but overall Belleville is a beautiful place to bike.

That’s actually where cyclists are supposed to be. Under the Highway Traffic Act, bicycle riders are not allowed to ride on any sidewalks. The fine for riding a bicycle on a sidewalk can be anywhere from $30 to $90.

Linda Serres, a daily cyclist, said there are lots of things that the city can do to help keep cyclists safe.

“Well it would be nice if they would allocate space by painting that line on the road,” said Serres.

“It would be nice if they would publicize more about share the road signs and make motorists aware more and more people are out on their bikes.”

According to David Smith, coordinator of the Belleville Cyclist Advisory Group, the City of Belleville is currently awaiting recommendations for a proposed Belleville cycling network from Morrison Hershfield, the consultants for the project. The group is working with Morrison Hershfield to come up with a transportation master plan.

Part of the proposed plan includes bicycle trails along Dundas Street, Bridge Street West and a trail from Moira Street West to Loyalist College.

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