'Polite reminder': Halifax cyclist uses pink pool noodle for added safety

When Ella Dodson rides her bike on the streets of Halifax, she's easy to spot.

The woman from the city's north end has strapped a bright pink pool noodle, covered in reflective tape and twinkly lights, to the back of her bicycle.

The noodle, she says, is a "polite reminder" of the law that cars must give a clearance of at least one metre when passing cyclists.

Emma Davie/CBC

"It's actually a very cheap piece of personal protection," Dodson said.

The idea came shortly after a close call with a car near the corner of Agricola and Charles Streets, where the city has added a pedestrian bump-out. It makes things safer for pedestrians, but made the lane smaller for cars and cyclists.

"I was actually quite terrified," she said. "So I was so angry. I wrote to the city complaining about the pedestrian bump-out, saying that if this is a cycling street, they really ought also provide for cyclists." she said.

Emma Davie/CBC

Only a week later, she was visiting a friend who was hit and injured while in a marked crosswalk over a year ago.

"Some of her injuries are never going to heal. After seeing how much was changing in her life, I decided, screw it all. I was going to become the dorky old lady with the pool noodle on the back of my bike."

Dodson went to Canadian Tire and bought a $1.99 pool noodle as well as matching pink bungee cords to hold it in place.

The bicycle is Dodson's sole form of transportation.

"I'm a bit older and I'm a very slow rider and I use my bike for transporting groceries," she said.

"As I started thinking about it, I kept hoping that other people would do it too because there seems to be a great deal of animosity between cyclists and drivers."

She says she'd like to see wider roads and cycling lanes, but she hopes city planners will think about catering to those besides just young commuters.

"There's a whole range of other people who are not cycling in Halifax because they don't feel safe," she said.

"And safety is going to come when we have enough people actually cycling on the road and enough people who are visible on the road."