Bicyclists and pedestrians account for 59 per cent of all the people killed or seriously injured on Toronto’s streets between 2005 and 2016 according to a new report released by Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), with partial funding by the Metcalf Foundation. Learning to be a Bicycle-Friendly Driver: Driver Training Program for Safely Sharing the Road with Bicycles explores how to prevent these casualties through driver education on how to share the road, specifically with cyclists.
The most obvious and potentially best place to reach drivers is when they are first applying for their learner’s permit. However, this method fails to reach the vast majority of existing drivers, who are having to share the road with an increasing number of cyclists and navigate new forms of cycling infrastructure such as ‘sharrows’ (a shared lane marking), painted and divided bike lanes, and bike boxes.
To overcome the fact that most existing drivers rarely take another drivers education course, authors Nancy Smith Lea and Yvonne Verlinden consulted broadly and propose that Toronto adopt some of the programs that are found in other jurisdictions such as Ottawa, San Francisco, and Fort Collins, Colorado. The authors outline “conditions for success”, paramount of which is strong municipal involvement. They also suggest that a parallel program designed for bicyclists to learn how to safely share the road with drivers be established.
Learning to Be A Bicycle-Friendly Driver concludes by suggesting five possible models for implementing the proposed training program while stressing the importance of continuing to build infrastructure that creates protected spaces for bicyclists on Toronto’s streets.