MPI delays process to improve road safety

Last fall, Bike to the Future made a significant effort to put forward a solid presentation on road safety and cycling at MPI’s general rate hearing at the PUB.

MPI’s vision statement, as filed at the hearing included:

“7. Manitoba Public Insurance will lead driver and vehicle safety initiatives that reduce risk and protect Manitobans, their streets and their neighbourhoods. Manitobans will recognize the Corporation is living its mission.”

We acknowledged that MPI has consulted Bike to the Future on the driver’s manual and their training programs, and that they have launched occasional advertising campaigns, but we went on to show how the resulting information to drivers about sharing the road with bicycles has not been clear, directive, or effective. As a result, cyclists are circulating on the road with drivers who don’t know how to pass us, how to merge with us, or how to turn when we are approaching.

We pointed out that this is a life and death matter for us.

We asked MPI to develop far more effective methods of educating Manitoba drivers about safely sharing the road with cyclists.

We were pleased that the PUB’s December 2012 order acknowledged our concerns, and included the following requirement:

“The Board will again order that a Road Safety Research Technical Conference take place to discuss Road Safety matters, involving interveners, community partners, enforcement and government officials, to be held on or before March 31, 2013, in furtherance of the Corporation’s goal, as stated in its Strategic Plan, that it will become a community leader and act as a central repository to facilitate the sharing of data amongst stakeholders for research and making informed decisions, and to take a more active role in road safety research.

In organizing the Road Safety Research Conference, the Board expects MPI would seek to involve scientist and experts from North America on road safety issues such as distracted driving, impaired (drug or alcohol) driving, seatbelt usage, new technologies promoting safety in automobiles, programs addressing wildlife collisions, motorcycle safety, roadway bicycle safety, and the role of other road safety investments.”

We felt this conference would be a useful step in developing more effective road safety programs.

Today, we learned — in PUB Order 22-13 — that MPI asked to be excused of that requirement, and that the PUB felt obliged to let them defer the issue to the next rate hearing.  We were particularly shocked to read that; “MPI cited cycling safety as an example of a potential topic for the Technical Conference, and questioned whether it was the Board’s intention to establish a multiday hearing merely on cycling road safety”.  [our emphasis]

We immediately wrote to Andrew Swan, the Minister responsible for MPI, asking him to urge MPI to do an effective job of telling Manitoba drivers how to share the road in time for the 2013 cycling season.