09/13/2013 20:07 EDT | Updated 11/13/2013 05:12 EST

Montrealers need to shame distracted drivers, says hurt cyclist

Robin Black is still battling constant migraines and soreness after a Monday collision that could have killed him.

Black was riding on his bike in the Lajeunesse Street north of Highway 40 in the bike lane when a car travelling alongside him made a hard right turn, cutting him off.

“So I hit him, and I went over the bars, and I just remember hitting the pavement,” he said.

“I remember the styrofoam on my helmet just crushing as it smacked the pavement.”

The driver was fined $116 and lost three demerit points for an accident that planted Black in the ER for eight hours, caused him to miss work and damaged his bike.

Black had noticed the driver was using his cell phone. He said that normally, when he sees that drivers are distracted, he pays closer attention to their behaviour on the road.

“I noticed he was on his cell phone. I noticed he was talking, but he was holding it kind of low, I guess to conceal it, I assume,” Black said.

But Black said the hard right turn was unpredictable.

He said his 13 years of biking in Montreal has taught him to be a vigilant cyclist who respects all the rules of the Highway Safety Code.

Still, he said, he’s had a lot of close calls with people texting or talking on their phones.

He said there needs to be a greater stigmatization, like the stigma attached to drinking and driving, to make people understand the dangers of using their phones while driving.

Black has done a lot of research into bike safety, and said that it shows distracted driving is just as bad as impaired driving.

Inspector André Durocher of the Montreal police’s traffic division said texting or talking can have devastating effects.

“When you are going 50 kilometres an hour, and you're not aware of your environment for one or two seconds… you're travelling the equivalent of one to two football fields. That's a lot of distance downtown,” Durocher said.

He said the prevalence of hands-free mobile usage means more people are texting while driving. He reminded Montrealers that using a device that can act as a phone while operating a car is illegal, no matter whether you’re calling, texting, checking your e-mail or even checking GPS for directions.

“They could kill someone. They could get killed,” he said.

Durocher said Montreal police are ramping up education campaigns in September and October to try to make people aware of the dangers.

Meanwhile, Black said he’s happy he emerged from the accident relatively unscathed, since it could have been far worse.

“I don’t want to think about that. I honestly don’t,” he said with tears in his eyes.

“I have a little girl, a wife. A friend was paralyzed while cycling. I don’t want to think about that.”