‘Everybody’s dying on this highway’

Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls, left, engages in a debate with protestor Ray Sterling in Leamington on August 12, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

A group of motorcycle enthusiasts is moving forward with a protest despite news that Highway 3 is being widened.

Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney and Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls announced in Leamington Monday that a two-lane portion of the highway will be widened to four lanes between Essex and Leamington starting in 2021. A section of the highway is also being repaved in a separate project also taking place in 2021.

While that news is encouraging for commuters who have been fed up for years with backups and numerous collisions, a group of local motorcyclists say more needs to be done, and they are moving ahead with a planned protest.

Following the announcement, an argument broke out between Nicholls and Ray Sterling, one of the organizers of the protest. The spat ended with Sterling promising to go ahead with the September 7 ride.

The protest ride is in memory of Tyler Knight, a motorcyclist who died when he and his bike were struck by a commercial vehicle on Highway 3 near Division Road on June 7. The purpose of the ride is to put additional pressure on Queen’s Park to completely widen Highway 3 to four lanes.

Sterling told reporters after his argument with Nicholls that while the current plan is a start, it does not go far enough.

“Repaving two lanes is nothing if you ask me, okay?” said Sterling. “All the environmental studies, all the land, everything’s done. Like, why are we doing this? Just start it and finish it. Period.”

Sterling said the main priority for everyone involved should be one thing, safety.

“It’s not just guys on two wheels, it’s everybody,” said Sterling. “Everybody’s dying on this highway. Simple as that.”