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Canada: Mucci Farms tackles bike safety for migrant workers

Every year thousands of migrant workers come to Essex County to work in area greenhouses. Planning to make money to send home to their families, they buy old used bikes as a cheap way to get around the area. Every year on average, a migrant worker’s life is extinguished or ruined when he’s struck by a vehicle while cycling on the road. In the last eight years at least eight migrant workers have been killed or critically injured while riding bicycles. Mucci Farms in Kingsville, one of the largest employers of migrant workers, is hoping to change that. Nick Williamson, a sales associate with Mucci Farms, has come up with a Ride Safe program that will see every employee fit with a helmet, arm reflectors and a light for the front and rear of their bikes.

“Most of the workers bike to work,” he said. “They are trying to save as much money as they can to send back home so they don’t want to buy helmets and other essentials. They are also new to this area so they aren't aware of our rules of the road. Laws and rules are very different in other countries and we have to ensure our employees are safe inside and outside of the workplace.”

Williamson contacted some local bike shops and finally struck a deal with Ambassador Bikes in Windsor to purchase some helmets, reflective bands and bike lights for the front and rear.

“It really is a proactive measure for our company,” Williamson said. “Every year there is another death. It’s only a matter of time before we have another cyclist struck by a vehicle. A lot of the roads that the workers ride on are dark with no street lights. It can be really tough for a motorist to see them.”

Danny Mucci, general manager of Mucci Farms, said the program is great for everyone in the company, not only migrant workers. But it is just a start – the town needs to step in as well.

“I’m a firm believer there is a need for this program,” he said. “But the town needs to help out as well. A town this size, with this amount of pedestrians and cyclists, we really need some bike paths. That would make a huge difference and would make everyone safer.”

In addition to the bike safety gear, every employee at Mucci Farms will also be required to watch a mandatory video on road safety and Williamson is hoping to have an officers from the OPP come talk to the employees about the rules of the road.

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