More Carnage on the Highway- When Will We Learn?
There are not a lot of choices when one decides to bicycle across Canada; there is really just the two-lane Trans-Canada Highway that is shared by every transport truck, sober or drunk driver or cyclist trying to cross the country, like Daniel Hurtubise and his two kids were, along with Robert Carrier, who left his six kids at home. Hurtubise had juvenile Diabetes, but was riding "to show that the disease does not stop people from living an active lifestyle." But cars do, very effectively; They were all struck from behind by a Honda Civic, and Hurtubise and Carrier were killed, while the kids were sent to hospital. The Ride of A Lifetime ended early.
It is the main route across the country, but is maintained by the provinces it passes through. In Manitoba the road was built in the sixties so it is unchanged from when I rode across it- narrow and very scary- dead straight and flat so everyone speeds, and when the trucks pass by you are either almost blown off the road or sucked into its draft.
Cyclist Mike Caslor, who commutes on a bike on the highway notes "It's a bit amazing to me that the Trans-Canada Highway does not have paved shoulders consistently," he said. "There are sections of the highway even between Winnipeg and Portage that don't have a paved shoulder; it's very dangerous for cyclists, and a quite an inconvenience for motorists as well." ::Herald-leader
According to the CBC,: "The particular section of the Trans-Canada Highway where the cyclists were killed was constructed in the 1960s,[assistant executive director for Manitoba Infrastructure] McMahon said. It is not scheduled to be upgraded in the near future, he said.
McMahon did not know exactly how much it cost to pave a highway's shoulders, but described it as very expensive."
But we live in a world where more and more people are going to be looking at cycling as an important mode of transportation, and we hope more and more of them will be taking bike vacations. Its time to find the money to put in those shoulders and make it safe for cyclists.
When I did the same trip many years ago I was hugging the edge of the road near Headingly, Manitoba, when a transport truck went by at high speed. Ahead was a deep pothole which I could not avoid, so I went into it and was thrown over my handlebars and only good luck threw me to the right onto the shoulder instead of the left under the wheels of the truck. It is unimaginable to me that all these years and all these thousands of cyclists later, nothing has changed and it is still a deathtrap.
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