Aside from the few people who read this blog, who out there would willingly ride on the road up at Finch and Sentinel? The eastbound image from Google above shows just how unfriendly the roads are: potholes, speeding cars. The sidewalks, however, are quite inviting - few walkers and separated from the roadway.
Breaking news is that a cyclist on the sidewalk at Finch and Sentinel killed a pedestrian recently (and how many peds died by cars this year alone?). I'm thinking it must be a special kind of asshole who is riding on the sidewalk in such an unsafe manner that they could kill someone, though granted I don't know the specifics of how this happened. It's a terrible thing, no matter the instrument that contributed to the death. But these bike/ped crashes always bring out the worst in politics and allows us to ignore all the big picture.
The Star claims that there are "moves" to get cyclists off the sidewalk, which is just code for streamlining the fines so they are $90 across the city. “There isn’t enough teeth in the law,” claims Sgt. Angelo Costa, the traffic sergeant in 31 Division. Yet he ignores the fact that the police can charge cyclists, like drivers, with charges like careless driving ($300 fine) or even with manslaughter.
The article even claims that e-bikes are allowed on the sidewalk because the by-law specifies wheel size. The wheel size issue is a red herring, since this has been addressed a long time ago by cops tacking on careless driving charges, which they started doing when bike couriers tried to circumvent the by-law.
All this hand-waving and moaning completely overlooks the root issue: why cyclists would prefer to ride on the sidewalk instead of the road. Sidewalk cycling is much higher in the suburbs and it's higher on streets with no bike lanes. It's just simple logic. Put in a bike lane, provide safer, comfortable routes for cyclists and they'll willingly stay off the sidewalk. From Andie Garcia of the Bike Union: “A lot of cyclists will tell you that they feel extremely unsafe on the road and therefore they choose to bike on the sidewalk. That ends up creating a second set of problems.”
This all begs a question: Why is it that we are so opposed to sidewalk cycling (especially in the suburbs where many sidewalks are mostly empty) but we are okay with sharing a multi-use path? Aren't they the same as far as walkers and cyclists are concerned? Where we have installed bike paths alongside roads such as Eglinton, they are often shared between pedestrians and cyclists (even with a separate sidewalk).
From the Star:
Khemraj Ganga rides his bike on the Finch Ave. W. sidewalk on a regular basis to get to work as a security guard.
“Nobody’s going to make me ride on the road. If I can’t ride here, I’ll stop riding because it is not safe for me,” he said.
Ganga, 55, claims he is a safe cyclist, especially when pedestrians are near.
“When I’m close to pedestrians, I come to a complete stop. No pedestrian is going to tell me I’m going to hit them. They’re going to walk into my bicycle. I’m not going to hit them, though.”
Another cyclist — who declined to give his name — cited poor road conditions and cars travelling up to 80 km/h as the reasons he rides on pedestrian walkways.
Let's keep in mind, that these people aren't "cyclists" as if they were something alien from "drivers" or "pedestrians". The labels serve to cover up that many of us are any of the three at any one time. The one fellow would just as well stop riding altogether if he can't ride on the sidewalk. That might be just what some politicians want.