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Crackdown on Sidewalk Cycling ignores Cause of Problem

This is another case of treating the symptoms rather than the cause of a problem.

According to the Star, there are plans to “crack down” on cyclists riding on sidewalks:

Cycling on the sidewalk has become “a huge issue” in cities across the province within the last five years. But the laws governing it are inconsistent and moves to update them have been slow.

“There isn’t enough teeth in the law,” said Sgt. Angelo Costa, the traffic sergeant in 31 Division where the incident occurred. “All I can do is stop a cyclist, he has to identify himself to me and I can give him a ticket. There isn’t anything else . . . that’s going to change his behaviour.”

In January, Toronto’s public works committee recommended that council work on a strategy to get cyclists off the sidewalks.

The police services board then discussed the issue in July and sent a report on harmonizing and enforcing sidewalk cycling bylaws back to the committee.

This is all fine and good… let’s increase the fines for sidewalk cycling.

However, this entire Star article (plus most discussions of this issue) ignores the cause of sidewalk cycling… that cyclists (especially in the old boroughs and suburbs of Toronto) do not feel safe on the road because:

  1. there is NO cycling infrastructure
  2. posted speed limits for cars are often 80 km/h… and most cars do far above that, usually close to 100 km/h.

As a result, most cyclists in these areas take the sidewalk because it’s safer, and the sidewalks are mostly deserted because hardly anyone actually uses the sidewalks in the old boroughs and suburbs.

If you’re going to crack down on sidewalk cyclists, at least give them a safe alternative.

  • Geoff Kettel

    Yes there is a “third way” other than bike lanes and riding on sidewalks – why dont we “twin” the suburban sidewalks. The picture of Finch shows it all – there is lots of room to add another trail for bikes next to the sidewalk for pedestrians. Right now the city is asking for off-road ideas (Cyclometer – August) here’s one that is a win win for all.

  • AH

    What I would like to see is bike cops riding in plainclothes and unmarked bikes, that can radio to marked cars about aggressive drivers who endanger bicyclists that obey the law.

  • Danforther

    I see plenty of sidewalk “bike riders”, (I don’t consider them worthy of the term “cyclist”) who race along crowded sidewalks, plugged into their ipods, and bike along without regard for either their own or anyone else’s safety.

    And there are those who cycle slowly along empty sidewalks alongside busy suburban streets, or who swing wide around pedestrians.

    These should not be treated the same.

    How about an “unsafe cycling” charge that would recognize the difference, without necessarily penalizing those who take to the sidewalks for their own safety where appropriate, or allowing small wheeled stunt bikes to speed along at will.


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