The War On Bikes in Toronto Moves Onto The Sidewalks

sidewalk sign bikes

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The War on Bikes in Toronto goes on, even in the middle of winter. It seems there has been an epidemic of bike crashes with pedestrians in Toronto (one death in three years, a 15 year old crashed into a woman who hit her head. The woman was not wearing a helmet.). Herb notes at IbikeTO that an average of 29 pedestrians are killed by cars each year in Toronto, and perhaps the campaign is disproportionately critical of cyclists.


Reason to ride on sidewalk 1: City of Toronto vehicle carefully parked in bike lane. Image: Lloyd Alter

City Councillor Karen Stintz complained in the Toronto Sun:

The public needs to know that biking on the sidewalk is dangerous and illegal, Councillor Karen Stintz said as her request for civic staff and Toronto Police to come up with a new approach to the issue was approved at the city's public works committee.

"Sidewalks are not the place for cyclists. Sidewalks are for pedestrians," she said.

"If cyclists don't feel safe on the streets, then we need to address that. But the way to address that is not to say ride on the sidewalks."

It is a controversial issue; when April Streeter wrote In Defense of Sidewalk Bike Riding, she got over ninety comments, many abusive, the usual "cyclists think they can ignore the law". I followed up with a survey where the first comment was "But in stark contrast to motorists, nearly all of whom follow nearly all the rules, most cyclists seem to treat the rules of the road as strictly optional."

Andrea Garcia of the Toronto Cyclists Union responds to the criticism:

"If there was a provision for cycling infrastructure ... I think most cyclists would use the infrastructure rather than the sidewalks," said Andrea Garcia of the Toronto Cyclists Union.
"There are times that road conditions can be so unsafe that cyclists feel that their safest option is to ride on the sidewalk," Garcia said.

bike lane toronto

Reason to Ride on sidewalk 2: No ploughing, no removal of trucks. Image credit Lloyd Alter

I will confess to sometimes riding on the sidewalk, particularly when the city does such a good job of clearing the bike lane (denoted by arrow) and removing the trucks in it. Fortunately my Strida has tiny wheels and under Toronto legislation I can do so legally. (The law allows bikes with up to 24" wheels to use the sidewalk). In many parts of Toronto the bike lanes are blocked with cars, dumpsters and Fedex trucks and we have no choice if we want to get around them safely. When I do go on the sidewalk I go slowly and carefully, and if the sidewalk is crowded I walk the bike. As always in cars or bikes, there are a few crazies who do not.

Hmm. Do I take the sidewalk or the road? Toronto Mybikelane

Councillor Stintz, if you want to keep cyclists off the sidewalk, then give them a safe place to ride. Enforce rules about parking in bike lanes. Give us some options.

More on Bikes on Sidewalks:
In Defense of Sidewalk Bike Riding
Is Riding a Bike On The Sidewalk OK?
The Battle of the Bike Lanes In Toronto
Battle of the Bike Lanes in the New York Times
Bike Lanes in Toronto Turn Into Phoney "War on Cars"
Bike Boxes Come To Toronto In Last Gasp Of Bike Infrastructure Investment
Batman in the Bike Lanes: Guerilla Bike Activists Fight Back

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