Changing Cycling Laws
by Jason Fredin
I’m happy to see cycling getting a lot of attention in the #LdnOnt tag on Twitter lately. (Yes, I’m still paying attention.)
While everyone seems to have the best intentions, nobody seems to agree on where bicycles belong. To be completely honest this is an argument that in my own house, we agree to disagree.
I fully understand the people who say they are too afraid of crazy drivers, and will ride on the sidewalk regardless of the law. Cycling can be scary, big metal objects piloted by people you don’t know or don’t trust hurling past you at speeds sometimes nearing 90km/h.
For those who want to ride their bikes on the sidewalk I have two concerns. One is pedestrian safety and the other is your own safety.
If we opened the sidewalks to some cyclists, what would the law look like?
I completely agree that my son should not be forced to ride on the road. He still has training wheels on his bike and takes 10 minutes to reach the end of our crescent.
Ok, so should there be an age exemption to the law? Sure, although I have seen a number of young kids that can really fly on their bikes.
Maybe a speed limit for the side-walk? That wouldn’t hurt, but what speed do you set it at? A person wanting to qualify to run the Boston Marathon has to average 14km/h. Most pedestrians would be terrified to have a bike pass them at 15km/h, a speed fairly attainable by most cyclists.
Do we want to write a law that would make criminals out of high level recreational running?
One speculation I have heard was to making wheel diameter the focus. I ride on 27.5″ wheels, they are big and made for speed, 26″ is standard on mountain bikes, so under 26″ should be fine for sidewalks?
One problem, 20″ tires are used on BMX bikes and frequently ridden by adults. So under 20″ can be on the sidewalk? That puts my son (the 6-year-old) in the riding on the road only category.
I also have to dismiss a law based on wheel size simply because it is irrelevant to actual cyclist top speed or abilities.
All of this may be a moot point as I don’t see any of the current laws being enforced, or if you are in favour of the “anything goes” approach to who can use a sidewalk.
Maybe in my next post we’ll discuss why I am against in-boulevard bike paths (IBBPs) and some other new road designs intended to help cyclists.