I’ve been working with Livable Oakville Cycling to bring awareness to cycling safety in The Town of Oakville and also to create an action group to help the Town with it’s transportation planning.
This initiative is prompted by the upcoming introduction of the Town of Oakville’s updated Alternative Transportation Master Plan (ATMP) coming June 30 and scheduled for a vote by Town council on July 10.
This plan will help guide the Town in planning cycling infrastructure for the next five to 10 years and Livable Oakville Cycling thinks the council should take a second look at the ATMP before moving forward.
The main issue is one of sharrows which are the painted chevrons that are currently all over Oakville roads. The big issue with sharrows is new studies show not only do they not do what planners would hope they would do (keep cyclists safe) but the actually can contribute to creating unsafe situations for both motorists and cyclists alike.
Sharrows were introduced as a way of indicating to cyclists the safe distance to ride from parked vehicles to avoid being “doored” (where a parked motorist opens their car door without looking to see if a cyclist is likely to be struck…ask any urban cyclist and they’ll tell you this happens all the time and is very dangerous).
Unfortunately many municipalities started using the painted sharrows as a cheap way of indicating a cycling route on all roads with and without parking.
However, unlike a marked cycling lane with its continuous painted line (or in some municipalities its actual physical divide of the cycling lane from the roadway) the sharrow, which is not a continuous separation only appearing every few hundred meters, does nothing more than suggest cyclists are safe riding on the “marked” roadway while confusing motorists.
Unfortunately so many accidents and even fatalities are showing how dangerous sharrows actually are to cyclists.
The Oakville ATMP promotes the use of sharrows in the mistaken belief that sharrows contribute to cycling safety.
Livable Oakville Cycling is working with the Town to come up with a safer alternative as Oakville is a keystone municipality in the GTA cycling boom which is happening in municipalities across North America.
Livable Oakville Cycling estimates there maybe as many as 7,000 cyclists on Oakville roads daily. When you consider some of the larger local cycling clubs have upwards of 500 to 1,000 members each and then you add the number of grade and high school students who cycle to school here in Oakville and all the families who cycle on weekdays and weekends this number of 7,000 may not be so high after all.