Calls for legal side-by-side cycling after pickup truck crash hurts five
A collision on a highway in Edmonton ended with five cyclists in hospital and others calling for a change to Alberta’s traffic laws.
The five cyclists were part of a group of 15 travelling on the Sherwood Park Freeway Saturday morning as part of a weekly ride when they were hit from behind by a pickup truck.
“It’s every cyclist’s nightmare,” Tiffany Baker of the Edmonton Road and Track Club told CTV Edmonton. “It is every club’s nightmare to know a group of cyclists went down during a group ride.”
The cyclists who were hit are associated with 9th Street Cycle-Logic, a bike shop and club in the city.
Club officials have said that one of their members required emergency surgery after suffering multiple fractures and internal injuries. Another remained in hospital as of Sunday night for assessment and observation, while the three others who were hit had been released from hospital.
The collision has sparked debate over who was following the rules of the road and whether the province should change some of those rules to better protect cyclists.
RCMP Cpl. James Stanvilloff says investigators believe the driver of the pickup truck may have been “not paying attention to the road” at the time of the collision. Police have not said whether the driver will be charged.
Gail Wozny, the president of the Juventus Cycling Club, says a lot of the reaction to the collision she has seen online has involved “victim-blaming” of the cyclists.
“It’s stirring up a lot of reaction that’s pretty negative,” she said.
According to the RCMP, the cyclists were riding in the centre lane of traffic and travelling two abreast, both of which are illegal in Alberta.
“I know it is common that cyclists do ride two abreast, but the club rules don’t supersede what the law states,” said RCMP Cpl. James Stanviloff.
Cycling advocates say riding two abreast is safer than the single-file formation mandated by the law, in part because it makes them more visible to other road users.
“We aren’t guaranteed that everybody is looking out for our safety,” Baker said. “It’s that unknown piece that we can’t control … that is so incredibly scary.”
Quebec and B.C. also require cyclists to travel single-file. Ontario's traffic laws only stipulate that vehicles moving slower than the normal speed of traffic must stay as close to the right edge of the road as they can.
Alberta's cycling laws are currently under review. Cycling advocates are hoping the province will allow side-by-side riding and other measures they see as contributing to safer roadways. It is not clear when any proposed changes might become public or take effect.
With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Angela Jung