Family and friends of Ellen Watters raising awareness about cycling safety
Dozens of friends and family of a well-known Moncton cyclist walked or rode bicycles through the city on Sunday to honour her memory and raise awareness about cycling safety.
Ellen Watters, 28, was a promising professional cyclist who was struck by a motorist near Sussex, N.B., on Dec. 23. She died four days later.
Those close to Watters are calling their efforts “One Metre for Ellen,” and are pushing to have Ellen’s Law passed at City Council. The law would require motorists to keep one metre between themselves and a cyclist.
“It's about time cyclists have a way to protect themselves on the road,” said cyclist Keith Godfrey. “Right now we don't really have a whole lot of protections because there's no laws to protect us.”
Nova Scotia and Quebec already have a one metre law to protect cyclists on the road. Those gathered at Sunday’s rally will be presenting the provincial government with a petition requesting that a similar law be adopted in New Brunswick.
“There is a prevalent mentality that bikes don't belong on the road,” said co-organizer Sheila Cameron. “We do belong on the road. New Brunswick law says that we have to ride on the road. We're not allowed on the sidewalks where there's bike lanes. We'll be in those bike lanes.”
New Brunswick Speaker of the House and Moncton MLA Chris Collins is also an avid cyclist. He agrees steps need to be taken to allow motorists and cyclists to share the road safely.
“We need to extend some safety regulations to them,” Collins said. “It's a growing sport so we need to make sure that we keep the laws up to date, as well.”
Many cyclists say they can recall at least one close call with a motorist
“I've not had accidents but I've been pushed off the road, I've been honked at, yelled at, screamed at, had things thrown at me – you name it,” Godfrey said.
“A lot of us have been yelled at to get off the road and we've had cars come very close to us,” said Cameron.
The goal now is to get the law on the books to help reduce the chances of another accident, like the one that claimed the life of Ellen Watters.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.