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More calls for safer roads after two young cyclists sent to hospital this week

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

A Sarnia man is renewing his calls for the city to prioritize safe, active transportation after two young cyclists were sent to hospital in separate collisions on the same day this week.

“This is exactly what I talked about,” said Scott Kember, who, less than two months ago warned council that cyclists and runners are at risk because of unsafe conditions — specifically along Blackwell Road — including poor lighting, speeding traffic, and a lack of sidewalks or paved shoulders.

The avid cyclist was nearby when an 11-year-old boy biking down Blackwell was struck and sent to hospital with minor injuries, Monday. Police said he was wearing a helmet, which likely saved his life.

“As soon as I saw the kid’s bike on the ground, and all of the emergency vehicles… I was pretty shocked,” Kember said. “As a parent, that’s your worst nightmare.”

About an hour earlier, police say a 14-year-old girl was struck while cycling eastbound on Wellington, using the crosswalk; she was taken to hospital with minor injuries, and a 25-year-old female driver was charged with “Turn Not in Safety.”

Sarnia Police on scene of a collision that sent a 14-year-old cyclist to hospital, Monday. (Sarnia Police photo)

“That’s somebody’s kid,” Kember said. “And it’s only a matter of time when it’s going to happen again.”

A staff report stemming from Kember’s February presentation will go to council next week.

In it, Sarnia’s manager of development/transportation Alister Brown notes there is “little budget currently available for this type of work, so only minor upgrades like signage and very high priority lighting can be completed immediately.”

A staff report recommends additional ‘Share the Road’ signage along the corridor of Blackwell Road.

The report’s recommendations include: directing staff to supply and install additional ‘Share the Road’ signage along the corridor of Blackwell Road; conduct a photometric review at the intersection of Blackwell and Telfer roads, implementing any recommendations for lighting improvement; and refer the request for sidewalks or paved shoulders to the city’s Active Transportation Master Plan.

Larger upgrades, the report adds, will require additional budget, “and need to be prioritized with all the other similar requests staff receive.”

Active transportation refers to the movement of people or goods powered by human activity, according to Infrastructure Canada, and includes walking, cycling, and the use of human-powered or hybrid mobility aids such as wheelchairs, scooters, e-bikes, rollerblades, snowshoes and cross-country skis, and more.

Kember said that while he understands the reality of budget constraints, he wants to see the city prioritize active transportation now, not down the road.

“I know it all comes down to money, but if you don’t prioritize it and put it as one of your key focus areas, it’s not going to happen by itself,” he said. “Active transportation is not an add-on or an accessory — it’s essential. In fact, in my opinion, you should prioritize active transportation over automobile transportation.

“We need an overall strategy shift,” Kember continued. “You have to basically say, ‘for this amount of money that we’re going to spend on infrastructure, this certain percentage needs to be for active transportation.’

“Ten years from now our children will thank us for it.”

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