This month has been a difficult one for cyclists, particularly those in the Halifax Regional Municipality – but also for everyone in Nova Scotia who cares about access to safe and active transportation. The death of Loresa Makonin on October 8th, was exactly what BNS had hoped would not happen. Together with the Halifax Cycling Coalition, we hosted a memorial ride to celebrate her life, love of cycling, and to draw attention to the long road ahead to ensure that we do more to ensure that cyclists have safe infrastructure and that drivers know to watch for cyclists.

Just a few short weeks before Loresa’s accident, BNS convened a special issue meeting on bicycle safety because of increasing concern about several incidents where cyclists were either hit by vehicles or harassed while riding. We said, “we need to do something soon, before another person is killed”. And sadly, so sadly, we failed.

Despite there being overall support in Nova Scotia for increased cycling, with active transportation plans being developed across the province, the Blue Route finally launching in August 2015, more than 10,000 children engaged in the Making Tracksprogram, and senior women celebrating getting back on their bicycles, there remains the age old conflict between motorists and cyclists.

We are in the critical space and time of needing to ensure that Nova Scotians are both drivers and cyclists. That while we bicycle, we abide by the rules of the road – detailed in the recently released Cycling Handbook developed by Velo Cape Breton; and when we drive, we respect cyclists, and perhaps most importantly, understand that cyclists are far more vulnerable on the road than cars.

We need more events like the Grand Fondo, more people feeling like riding their bicycle is an easy transportation option, and above all else, more empathy for those with whom we share our transportation infrastructure. Over the winter, BNS will be planning on a spring campaign that will be focused on encouraging cyclists to do everything possible to ride safely and for drivers to watch for cyclists, giving them the one metre distance required.

Our lives depend on it.

lola doucet & Susanna Fuller, BNS Co-presidents