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CHATHAM, Ont. — Police say a man found riding his bicycle in the passing lane of Highway 401 near Chatham yesterday claimed he was simply collecting beer bottles for the deposit.

Ontario Provincial Police at the Chatham-Kent detachment said motorists were swerving to avoid hitting the unidentified 65-year-old man. Police said he was sober and apologetic when they stopped him in the westbound lanes near Highway 40.

“We get a lot of people walking and bicycling on the 401,” said a dispatcher for the OPP.

“People don’t know they’re not allowed to do it.” The man was escorted off the highway for his, and the public’s safety, police said.

The 401 near Chatham-Kent has been dubbed “Carnage Alley” for its grim reputation for accidents. In Essex County and Chatham-Kent, there were 25 fatalities on the 401 last year, including eight in a fiery, 87-car pile-up in September, 1999.

The OPP has since created a 22-officer traffic safety unit to police the stretch for dangerous drivers.

— The National Post

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