While the perils of distracted driving are widely acknowledged, a similar concern is emerging in the world of cycling—texting while biking. Advocacy groups are sounding the alarm about the potential financial and physical risks associated with this dangerous practice. Velo Quebec has joined the chorus of voices urging cyclists to refrain from this behaviour.
Magali Bebronne, a spokesperson for Velo Quebec, emphasized the legal prohibition against texting while cycling, as it is clearly stated in the Highway Safety Code. She pointed out the inherent danger in attempting to manage two tasks simultaneously, asserting, “When you’re cycling, your complete attention should be on the road.”
According to the province’s automobile insurance board, known as the SAAQ, fines for texting while cycling range from $80 to $100. In contrast, distracted driving penalties behind the wheel can cost motorists up to $600, along with five demerit points.
Former police officer Andre Durocher, formerly a member of the Montreal police road safety division, has observed the proliferation of this phenomenon over the past few years, fueled by technological advancements and the growing popularity of cycling. Durocher contends that enforcement efforts in this regard have lagged behind.
Statistics from Velo Quebec reveal that Montreal police issued fewer than 250 tickets for texting while cycling last year. Meanwhile, nearly 800 citations were issued for cyclists wearing headphones.
Magali Bebronne argued that the primary focus should be on drivers, as motor vehicles pose a more significant risk to the safety of Quebec’s road users. She emphasized the importance of enforcing traffic laws and stated, “In my opinion, we should place much more emphasis on tackling distracted driving than on distracted cycling.”
Durocher held a differing perspective, asserting that road safety should be a collective responsibility. He remarked, “It’s everyone’s responsibility equally. I’ve always said that the person responsible for your safety is the one you see in the mirror every morning.”