Sideswiped cyclist speaking out about road safety in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Sideswiped cyclist speaking out about road safety in Kamloops

Joseph Diamanti is a Kamloops resident who is speaking out about the need for more bike lanes in the city.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Joseph Diamanti
September 22, 2021 - 7:30 AM

A cyclist who was sideswiped by a vehicle in Kamloops last week is speaking out about riding safety and the lack of bike lanes in the city.

Joseph Diamanti was riding to work on a main street in Kamloops's North Shore when he said he became the victim of a hit and run by a small charter bus.

“I was riding past where Penny Pinchers used to be and all of a sudden I heard a honk,” he said. “I put my hand up so they knew I’d heard them and kept riding as tightly to the curb as possible, assuming they would go around me. Within seconds of the honk I was hit, they sideswiped me.”

Diamanti reports his left handle bar, pedal and leg was hit, causing him to crash into the curb and fly over his handlebars.

“I was just rolling head over feet and when I came to a stop the bus was too far to get its license plate,” he said. “A young man came running over and helped me up and got my bike off the road.”

READ MORE: RCMP seize drugs, weapons and stolen bicycles from Kelowna home

Diamanti describes himself as a low income, full-time single father who uses his bike to get to work and back every day. He said he wears his helmet and observes all applicable laws when cycling, and teaches his young son to do the same. Diamanti said there are not enough bike lanes available in Kamloops to ensure safe travel between points.

“I shouldn’t have to ride on roads with no bike lanes in such a dangerous environment,” he said. “Neither should my son. I am not ignorant, I don’t ride right in front of cars and I use proper hand signals and protective equipment.”

Diamanti said he is going to be approaching city councillors with his concerns before someone else gets hurt.

“I'm very motivated to see positive changes surrounding riding,” he said. “It worries me a lot, thinking about my son out riding with his friends.”

On Sept. 21, an e-bike rider was killed in a separate incident involving a vehicle on Highway 1 near Dallas. 

Dr. Rob Higgins is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Thompson Rivers University. He is also an advocate for active transport and low-carbon in Kamloops with the Kamloops Association for Low Carbon Transportation. He rides his bike to the university every day and confirms Diamanti's concerns.

“The lack of bike lanes is a chronic problem,” Higgins said. “While some bike lanes exist, not very many lead to the business areas on North Shore or downtown areas. There are lanes but they don’t connect with each other. The current design is definitely hazardous.”

Higgins said he is in contact with some city councillors about improving bike transportation. He said his association has developed a route map they want to give to the city engineering department.

“The city has a plan in place but it needs to be updated,” he said. “Many other cities have made major efforts in putting in lanes. We have road upgrades and construction projects that seem to get completed without the addition of bike lanes, which shows bike lanes are not being taken into consideration in the planning phases.”

READ MORE: JONESIE: E-bikes should spark a transportation revolution

Kamloops City Councillor Arjun Singh said there is a transportation master plan the city is working on but it could use some updating.

“One thing I want to do is ask city and transportation staff to meet with other cycling groups in town to see if some changes could be made to the plan we have right now,” he said. “There is so much investment in our roadways, we are still trying to make sure there are safe networks for riders and connected lanes all over town.”

Singh shared Higgins’ observation that the connections around the university and some other sections of town are not safe and these issues need to be addressed.

“I am active and passionate about encouraging more walking, riding and transit to get people out of single use vehicles, to reduce emissions and increase health benefits,” Singh said. “We need to give people a way to do this safely as they are the most vulnerable folks on the roads. Council is working on building on our current bike network as soon as possible.”

Singh said council recently applied for provincial grants to upgrade bike lanes in several sections of the city.

READ MORE: Tens of millions of dollars in new bike paths planned for Kelowna

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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