Korlene and Terry Coward had only seconds to react before an approaching cyclist collided with Terry along a multi-use pathway in Qualicum Beach on Sunday, Aug. 1.
The incident took place along the 3000 block of Island Highway West in Qualicum Beach, just before 11:30 a.m. It was caught on camera by an area resident.
“My wife was so upset. I was far more concerned about her and calming her down,” said Terry, who indicated he suffered an arm injury in the incident. “I think I said, ‘are you OK?’ (to the cyclist) and he may have said the same thing to me. And then he got up and left. I wasn’t trying to restrain him from leaving or anything – I was more concerned with calming my wife down and getting the situation under control.”
It wasn’t until the couple returned to their car did Terry realize his arm “wasn’t in too good of shape,” which prompted a visit to the Oceanside Health Centre in Parksville, where they said they learned it was broken.
While Terry considers his own experience as an unfortunate accident, his main concern lies with the intended purpose of the pathway and for the elderly pedestrians.
“If this had happened to them, I hate to think of what the consequences might have been.”
He said there were no dividing lines or signage that indicated the pathway was ‘multi-use’ for both pedestrians and cyclists.
“There’s a high wall of fences on one side and cement barricades on the other. So there’s no way you can escape.”
The director of planning for the town, Luke Sales, confirmed the pathway as multi-use, as it meets the three-metre width standard.
He said to his knowledge, the incident on Aug. 1 was the first that resulted in an injury.
“There have been some issues that we’ve had to work through since it was installed. Some other issues with accessing driveways, as well. It’s been refined a number of times. And we’re always looking for ways to improve safety,” he said.
A possible solution, Sales said, would be to install courtesy signs to advise users of the shared multi-use space.
“Another option might be to look at ways to slow the speed of cyclists,” he said. “There’s lots of things we can look it. It could be a bit challenging to physically slow the cyclists, so probably just notifying them that it’s a shared area. We rely on people to use common sense and share the road.”
While in talks with the Cowards, Sales said the town would work with their consulting transportation engineer to see what can be done to improve safety.