Demerit points for cyclists - what's going on?
There is definitely a big need for sorting this issue out somehow.
I've got a ticket for riding wrong one on a one way street. $110 and 3 demerit points. I tried to argue, that since I was riding not driving (even though my ticket says so "driving wrong way" I shouldn't be given demerit points on my licence that might have an impact on my future auto insurance cost. I called the Ministry of Transportation on that, and tried to quote the letter that is so eagerly posted on bicyling advocacy websites:
"Correction: The June issue of Cyclometer contains incorrect information
about the Highway Traffic Act as it applies to bicycles. We apologize for
the error. Please note of the following correction:
The HTA defines bicycles are defined as vehicles. As vehicle operators,
cyclists are subject to most of the same HTA requirements as drivers of
motor vehicles. However, there are some important differences. The
application of demerit points is an important difference.
According the the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, "the demerit point
system only applies to certain offenses committed in a motor vehicle.
However, I understand that on rare occasions demerit points are in error
assigned to the driving record of an individual for an offense committed on
a bicycle. When the Ministry of Transportation is notified of such
occurrences, the error is immediately corrected." (1993 letter from Ontario
Minister of Transportation to the Chair of the Toronto Cycling Committee)
We continue to hear that cyclists are being charged with demerit points in
error. If you are being given a summons by a police officer ask them to
clearly indicate that the "vehicle type" is "bicycle" on the Provincial
Offenses Notice. If the notice is submitted to the Ministry of
Transportation without a bicycle being indicated then it could be mistakenly
coded as a motor vehicle offense."
the guy (in the Ministry of Transportation) who answered my call told me that I can quote this letter in the court if I want, but it doesn't matter whether I was on a bicycle or in the car, the offence was committed and demerit points will be given to me anyways. To rephrase this: it doesn't matter whather you drive or ride, you still getdemerit points. Further, I was told, if a person doesn't have a driver's licence at the time, a personal file is created for them, and the points are put there, so when they get the licence in the future, demerit points are going to be transferred there. so no point in arguing whether it's fair or not to punish only those who have a license.
Apparently employees of the Ministry of Transportation are not aware of the glorious letter that was sent by their boss to the Chair of the Toronto Cycling Committee 1993 (which I quoted above), and it seems that they can't care less.
I've got lucky because the police officer who wrote my ticket didn't come to the court, so my charges were dropped.
Is there any way it can be somehow implemented into the Ministry of Transportation regulations whether cyclists should be given demerit points or not? The cycling advocacy groups say one thing (no demerit points for cyclists) but in reality demerit points are still given and the Ministry of Transportation insists that it's very rightly so.