Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Lighting Up the Night with Onlia

I have been involved in a lot of cycling events over the years but recently I was a part of a different kind of cycling experience. It didn’t involve mountain biking or a competition and took place in the heart of downtown Toronto in -15 degrees Celsius on the dark night.  Sound a bit weird? Actually, it was quite the opposite. Onlia is a new digital brand offering a safe driving app and digital auto insurance in Ontario. With roots in The Netherlands, a known safe cycling capital, Onlia hosted this event to promote road safety for all in Canada… yes, for drivers AND cyclists.  They have a mission to always put safety first, a value that is CRUCIAL for all while we share and enjoy our Canadian roads. 

A couple years ago, I was cycling back from school when my perspective on road safety changed dramatically.  It was nighttime, pouring rain, and I had to bike along a very busy road that had no shoulder or bike lane.  Forced to ride on the sidewalk, I was not seen by a car and was hit at a fast speed from the side.  This scenario had always been a, “What If” moment for me, then comes the moment you feel your body dent the side of a car and then you’re rolling off the hood.  So much can happen in a fraction of a second, seemingly out of your control.  This is a terrifying and horrible situation for everyone involved, cyclist and driver. Everyone makes mistakes but many accidents can be prevented.  I was insanely lucky to walk away relatively fine physically, with my commuter bike fixable and a greater sense of bike safety awareness for the future. 

Although I race mountain bikes, I spend a LOT of time road riding for training. It’s so easy to hop on your bike and head out on the roads day in and day out without giving a second thought for the risk you endure.  I know I can speak for myself and my elite-level cyclist friends by saying that each year there are too many close calls and accidents that could have been avoided.  Compared to the country side roads, the city can feel like a war-zone between cyclists and cars.  Infrastructure is lacking in most urban areas, discouraging people to even consider cycling as a convenient or safe mode of transportation, for their work commute, or as a hobby.  

Onlia provided Torontonians with a supportive and fun environment to learn about safe, nighttime city cycling.  Proper lights on bikes are VERY important for cars to see cyclists.  At a minimum, all cyclists should have a white light on the front and red light on the back (this is actually the law at nighttime).  With the help of Onlia, four colourful lights were installed onto the wheels of bikes for everyone that attended the cycling safety event; hence the event name “Light Up The Night”. Not only do the lights look super cool when the wheels are spinning, but you are much more visible and safer on busy roads. 

Cycling as an alternative to driving offers so many benefits to peoples’ individual health and society as a whole.  How can we expect to transition to a greener and more sustainable city without cooperation between drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and city planners? Generally, drivers DO want to be kind and share the road. It should be a collaborative effort between drivers and cyclists to make our roads safer. Events like Onlia’s, “Light Up The Night” are needed to raise awareness about road safety issues, influence cities within the GTA, remind drivers to support and look out for cyclists, and finally to teach cyclists how to ride safe and be seen. 

Thank you, Onlia, for advocating for a safer community for all. 

Want to get involved? Learn more about Onlia’s safety movement at Onlia.ca and follow them on FacebookTwitterand Instagram!