The Ontario Coalition for Better Cycling as an organization is now defunct. The current web site still subscribes to the OCBC philosophy and continues to be maintained as a source of accident research and opinion under the banner of The Vehicular Cyclist. It is authored and maintained by Avery Burdett, commuter, touring and competitive masters' cyclist whose philosophy is based on the principle that cycling is an enjoyable low risk activity. Unfortunately, this enjoyability and low risk is threatened by various politicians, bureaucrats, safety lobbyists, and misguided members of certain cycling organizations who would have cyclists ghettoized into bike lanes and onto bike paths, and mandate the use of helmets.

      "Same Rights, Same Responsibilities"

      The OCBC was an umbrella group of Ontario cycling organizations and individuals. It is no longer active as an organization because its principal purpose, to fight a mandatory helmet law is over and a partial victory won in 1995. It briefly reformed in 2004 through 2005 to fight a proposal to extend Ontario's child helmet law to include adults. The ensuing campaign was successful and the private member's bill died before it reached third and final reading in the legislature.

      Originally the OCBC existed not only fight an Ontario helmet law but also to defend cyclists' rights and interests, particularly the 100 year old right of access to public highways as drivers of vehicles.

      In the Ontario, a cyclist is the driver of vehicle by way of the definition of a bicycle as a vehicle in the Province's Highway Traffic Act. Ontario's cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers of vehicles. Ontario's traffic law provides fair protection of these rights when interpreted literally by Ontario's police, government, and the courts. Unfortunately the latter is frequently not always the case and as such the view that cyclists should yield their space to drivers of motor vehicles still prevails.

      The OCBC endorsed the phrase coined by the world's leading bicycle transportation engineer, John Forester, "cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles". Forester's vehicular cycling principles are the basis of the Canadian Cycling Association's CAN-BIKE cycle skills training program. The OCBC advocated that the province's Ministry of Education introduce the necessary policies for all Ontario's children to acquire the vehicular cycling skills as taught by the CAN-BIKE program. Cycling using these skills becomes a very low risk activity little different from walking. Little has been done however by the provincial government to address educational needs despite a government committee promising to do so in 1993.

      In conjunction with the promotion of vehicular cycling education, the OCBC also acted to foster a greater understanding among Ontarians of the value to all road users when cyclists apply and are allowed to apply vehicular practices.

      In carrying out its mandate, the OCBC compiled considerable amount of research on cycling accidents and their causes, and helmets and their effectiveness, some of which was original research. Because of the value of this research and the importance of fighting helmet laws everywhere, for the forseeable future, this site will be maintained and added to as relevant new information becomes available.

November 2008
Return to: Home