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Cyclist spotted on the highway? Here’s how you shouldn’t react

Published September 10, 2012
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What would you do?

Recently, I was shocked to see a young lady on a bicycle on the Don Valley Parkway. At first she was on the Eastern Ave. on-ramp shoulder, but then moved onto the driving lane of the highway.

By law, cyclists are prohibited from the DVP. Violators can be ticketed and removed by police for their own safety.

If not struck outright, even the backdraft from a passing tractor-trailer could knock down a cyclist and they might then be run over.

Should you intervene directly?

We all like to fantasize that we’d step up to be the “hero” in dangerous situations, but in real life, the first rule of rescue is: “Don’t become a victim yourself.” If you’re hit, you can’t help anyone. That’s why stopping unnecessarily on the highway would be foolhardy.

Years ago, my dad made that “Good Samaritan” mistake and was rear-ended at high speed, putting him in hospital. Others have been killed in similar circumstances.

Toronto Police Constable Clinton Stibbe advises that if a pedestrian or cyclist is spotted on a major highway with speed limit over 80 km/h, the best way to help is to call police. Stopping a vehicle at any time on a highway is dangerous and should only be done in an actual emergency. (Even marked police cars with full emergency lighting often get hit.)

“Good Samaritans” must be cognizant that they would be putting themselves in serious jeopardy. Never stop a vehicle in a live lane of traffic. Vehicles should only stop on a shoulder or other safe area, he adds.

The point is not to discourage Good Samaritans from helping others, but rather, encouraging them to do so in the safest way possible recognizing the hazards involved.

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