Last week, Toronto Police Services 11 Division sent out an email regarding a week-long bicycle safety blitz starting today. The blitz covers various parts of 11 Division, including The Junction, High Park, Roncesvalles, and Bloor West Village.
They will be cracking down on cyclists who disobey traffic rules, especially sidewalk cycling. They really made sure to spell out the details of the sidewalk cycling bylaws and how they are enforced. No word on whether they will also crack down on motorists parked in the Runnymede bike lane, joggers in the High Park bike lane, or motorists doing crazy stuff pretty much wherever they please.
You can read the text of the email below.
The 11 Division Traffic Unit has received a number of community complaints related to traffic safety issues within the division. In High Park both bicycles and motor vehicles frequently speed and fail to obey stop signs within the park. Additionally, bicycles ridden on the sidewalk endangering pedestrians is a problem in Bloor West Village, The Junction and in Roncesvalles Village.
A traffic safety initiative to address these concerns comprised of both enforcement and educational components will commence on Monday 05 May 2008 and conclude on Sunday 11 May 2008. Any traffic related concerns can be directed to 11 Division’s Traffic Unit by phoning 416-808-1100.
Sidewalks are for Pedestrians. Pedestrians use sidewalks to travel safely along busy city streets. During the summer months sidewalks are congested with pedestrians, cafes and vendors. When cyclists, in-line skaters and scooters are also involved, conflicts arise that could be prevented.
A City bylaw allows cyclists with a tire size of 61cm or 24 inches or less to ride on the sidewalk. The intent of this bylaw is to allow young children to cycle on the sidewalk while they learn to ride. The bylaw is based on wheel size because it is difficult for Police to enforce age-based bylaws, as most children do not carry identification. This is a municipal bylaw and rules vary in communities across Ontario. The Toronto bylaw states that riding a bicycle with tire size over 61cm (24 inches) on sidewalks is prohibited, as is riding/operating a bicycle (or roller skates, in-line skates, skateboard, coaster, toy vehicle) on a sidewalk without due care and attention and reasonable consideration for others. The fine in downtown Toronto for not following this bylaw is $90 and aggressive cyclists can also be charged with careless driving.
There are many hazards involved when cycling on the sidewalks. If a cyclist hits a pedestrian, the injuries can be severe. Seniors are especially vulnerable and can fall merely by being startled. Anyone with a visual or hearing impairment is at increased risk. Many cyclists ride on the sidewalk because they are afraid of cars. But choosing to ride on the sidewalk does not eliminate the risk of a car and bike collision. Cycling on the sidewalk is a contributing factor in 30 per cent of car and bike collisions. Collisions occur when cyclists ride off the sidewalk into the roadway or when motorists are exiting a laneway or driveway.
What to teach young cyclists about cycling on the sidewalk:
- Always yield to pedestrians. Get off and walk your bike or put your foot down.
- Ride slowly.
- Always walk your bike through a crosswalk or crossover (Fines apply if not followed).
- Use a bell or horn to let pedestrians know that you are there.
- Make eye contact with drivers. Assume that drivers don't see you.
- Look for cars in driveways, laneways and at intersections and be prepared to stop.
- Expect pedestrians to exit from stores.
To teach skills and give riders confidence in riding on the road, the City offers CAN-BIKE cycling courses for children and adults. Call 416-338-0000 to register or go to www.toronto.ca/cycling and click on CAN-BIKE.
stuart (not verified)
caughtMon, 05/05/2008 - 12:13
I got a ticket today for failing to stop at stop sign on Beverly at Baldwin. Two motor cycle police pulled over myself and another cyclist. He mentioned that today was the day they were targeting cyclists.
While he was writing me the ticket, I pointed out that several cars had run the red light at Dundas and Beverly while we he had me stopped, but he just ignored me.
He also mentioned that he is normally too busy ticketing cars to stop cyclists. I also mentioned that I had been hit by a car not far from where he stopped me, but he didn't seem to care.
I am pretty sure that area is not in 11 division, so they are probably doing a blitz in other parts of downtown aswell.
Was that you?Mon, 05/05/2008 - 13:35
I totally saw you! Well, maybe. It could have been anyone, really. I was biking down Baldwin before 9:00 this morning, and saw two cyclists stopped by cops on motorcycles. I wondered what they/you were stopped for. Cold comfort, I'm sure, but it's nice to hear that it wasn't something truly trivial like not having a bell.
I was also pulled over at that intersection a couple of years back for blowing through the stop sign, but they let me off with a warning, and since then I've stopped at every stop sign on my route. Yes, even the one at the bottom of the Poplar Plains hill. (I rationalize it to myself by thinking that I'm doing this for the exercise, and what could be more exercise than stopping and starting a lot? ;)
So, are you going to fight the ticket?
stuart (not verified)
yepMon, 05/05/2008 - 14:19
That most likely was me, I got the ticket right at 9 am.
I am thinking about fighting it, but I am still not sure yet.
I might just on principle. I safely rolled through the intersection and made sure no other cars or pedestrians were waiting to proceed. I do that every day as do 100s of other people. When there is a need for me to wait, like for pedestrians or cars going the opposite direction I come to a complete stop but otherwise I usually slow down, look both ways and go through.
I only do this at stop signs, I don't go through red lights, even when there are no cars around.
I also want to make sure I don't get any deremit points. I know you are not supposed to on a bike and I don't have a car and have no intentions to get one, but again it is about the principle.
But I am still debating, whether it will be worth all of the time and effort.
I also feel like going through the process so I can document it for the benefit of others.
Opt out of biking during blitz week?Mon, 05/05/2008 - 15:57
This kind of blitz makes me feel like walking for a week.
Like Stuart, I always stop at red lights, but slow down at stop signs and proceed if there's no one waiting, and stop if someone else gets there before me. I prefer cycling on a very high gear so momentum is a hard thing to lose.
I think the majority of cyclists roll through stop signs and at least occasionally go the wrong way on a one-way street, and most of the year the police will overlook it. Makes these kinds of blitzes seem like a hypocritical cash grab. How about sticking to fines for truly dangerous behaviours, like biking the wrong way in a bike lane?
Are sidewalks really that dangerous?Mon, 05/05/2008 - 18:56
Lots of stats tell us riding on the sidewalk is a quick way to get yourself hurt. Yet we have several kms of multi-use paths, most of which are below national standards in terms of design and width in Toronto,, which are essentially glorified sidewalks.
Some have much higher densities of cycling - pedestrian mix than sidewalks and higher densities over all in the warmer months. Are there similar injury rates for them? Hard to tell because they are typically not written up by the police under the HTA. Yet we never hear of a rash of collisions. Even if you discount the lack of cars involved you would expect similar rates to sidewalks.
Something does not add up.
I liedMon, 05/05/2008 - 19:27
On my way home today, I noted all the intersections where I regularly come to a full stop at a stop sign and found there are quite a few: intersections where shrubs block my view and those with only 2-way stops. So I guess I'm not the wild rebel my mid-life fantasies would make me out to be. Since Beverly and Baldwin is an intersection with a 2-way stop, I'm going to assume that I can continue with my nefarious ways at 4-way stops and not run into any problems with the law.
As for sidewalk cycling - on occasion, when a truck or construction force me to choose between merging with heavy traffic or coasting on an empty or mostly empty sidewalk, I've chosen the latter. I imagine the problem stems from a minority of arrogant or clueless individuals who show no courtesy towards pedestrians.
just on a bike (not verified)
some stop signs are used for wrong reasonWed, 06/18/2008 - 07:05
Stop signs that are used to slow traffic down should be replaced with caution signs or yeild signs. Especially continiously 4 way stops
same goes for 1 way steets, that are wide enough for 2 way, or change direction after every intersection, the purpose of these is to restrict traffic
it is abuse of the principals of common law to use a sign for reasons other then it intended purpose.
If you cycle at 30 km / hour and come to a slow 03 km/ hour that should suffice, enough time to check there are no other vechiles, with right of way or path of collison.
people are stupid and cops are peopleMon, 05/05/2008 - 12:22
First of all, cops exist to protect the property rights of those who have it. If they were really there for public safety, there'd be a permanent focus of resources against drivers and violent parents and partners, who case almost all injury and premature death.
Like politicians, they attempt to create a perception of safety for property owners, not an actuality, much less an actuality for all income groups. People percieve many cyclists to be acting dangerously when they disregard the traffic laws. The reality is that you are both more likely to be hit in the city by a car than a bike, and if hit exponentially more likely to be injured or killed by that car.
In short, people are stupid and cops are people.
I hope it worksMon, 05/05/2008 - 12:34
Sidewalk surfers are a menace. It is totally selfish and cowardly behaviour to transfer risk from yourself to pedestrians.
I hope we can get more cyclists onto the roads and take some space from cars rather than pedestrians.
Anonymous (not verified)
That is the most foolishMon, 05/05/2008 - 12:55
That is the most foolish talk I have ever heard. People should be allowed to ride on sidewalk if they are doing it safely. Have you ever heard of a pedestrian or cyclist killed on a side walk in Toronto? Until the city actually makes bike lanes, special bike/pedestrian areas, separated traffic lanes or what ever else is necessary to make cycling safe, then cycling on sidewalks should be allowed. More people are being killed at cross walks than cycling on sidewalks. This city is a joke when it comes to cycling on the street. We should be adopting European rules were cyclist are never at fault in motor vehicle involved accidents.
Foolish talk?Mon, 05/05/2008 - 13:46
I think not. You ask if anyone has ever heard of a pedestrian or cyclist being killed on a sidewalk and while deaths rarely occur, collisions and injuries occur frequently. In fact, according to the car-bike collision report available on the City of Toronto's website (http://www.toronto.ca/transportation/publications/bicycle_motor-vehicle/... ), there were 637 injuries in the two year period of 1997-98 when cyclists were on the sidewalk. Other reports suggest a cyclist is as much as 80% more likely to be involved in a collision and sustain injury when riding on the sidewalk. In the same report, there were 44 collisions n intersections when the cyclists entered the intersection from the sidewalk and was proceeding through the cross-walk. Injuries tended to be more severe as well. Naturally, children are over-represented in this type of collision because they tend to ride on the sidewalk legally most of the time, but all age groups were represented.
Riding on the sidewalk can rarely be done safely considering cyclists are whizzing by doors to shops, restaurants and homes that open directly onto sidewalks. Motorists in lane-ways and driveways crossing a sidewalk cannot see a fast-moving or even moderately-moving sidewalk cyclist and the cyclist has no time to stop if a motorist suddenly enters the sidewalk.
Indeed, there are quieter, less-travelled sidewalks where it may be safer to ride than, say, Bloor St. or College, but hidden entrances pose great risk to cyclists as a pedestrian may step out at any time, not expecting to be mowed over by a racing cyclist.
I like the suggestion that cyclists are never at fault, but the fact is, some cyclists ARE at fault when they disregard the safety of pedestrians, children and other cyclists, not to mention themselves. I can't tell you how many times I've nearly been struck and have been struck by some fool outside the Bloor St. pub I visit regularly and most of the pub patrons I speak with relate similar instances multiple times per day. How anyone can ride on a busy street sidewalk and think it's safe is beyond me.
heavy at faultMon, 05/05/2008 - 14:09
The fault should simply lie with the heavier vehicle:
- drivers are responsible for collisions with motorcycles/scooters, bikes and peds
- motorcycles/scooters for bikes and peds
- bikes for peds
Anonymous (not verified)
Where's the Beef?Mon, 05/05/2008 - 20:25
I wonder if you just like to argue. I only argue that if you want to ride on the sidewalk why can't you. You will not be breaking any speed records. And I don't believe stupid cops should be giving you tickets for riding on sidewalks, unless your doing something to endanger other citizens. I reviewed your link to the city of Toronto cycling stats from 1997-98. There was 2575 incidents involving cars and cyclist, 85 cyclist injured badly and 10 deaths. But not one motorized vehicle driver was injured or died. These stats don't list accidents involving pedestrians or I didn't see them and that would add another bunch of injuries and deaths. My point again is that why should cyclist have to pay fines etc. when they are not causing serious injuries or death?
Drivers are always at fault intiallyMon, 05/05/2008 - 19:29
"...We should be adopting European rules were cyclist are never at fault in motor vehicle involved accidents..."
Under the HTA drivers are at fault, in a civil sense, until they prove otherwise when they hit a ped or cyclist.
(2) This section does not apply in cases of a collision between motor vehicles or to an action brought by a passenger in a motor vehicle in respect of any injuries sustained while a passenger. 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3.
(3) This section applies where the loss or damage was sustained on or after the day section 3 of Schedule 10 to the Budget Measures Act, 2005 (No. 2) comes into force. 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3.
(4) This section, as it read immediately before the day section 3 of Schedule 10 to the Budget Measures Act, 2005 (No. 2) comes into force, continues to apply where the loss or damage was sustained before that day. 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3.
(5) In this section,
“motor vehicle” includes street car; (“véhicule automobile”)
Anonymous (not verified)
"Have you ever heard of aWed, 06/25/2008 - 12:17
"Have you ever heard of a pedestrian or cyclist killed on a side walk in Toronto?"
Yes. Early 1990's there was a big hoopla about cyclists switching from road to sidewalk, at the time the general stance was that bikes could be on the sidewalk but not too fast. Then a guy was going way too fast, jumping from road to walk and slammed into an old lady at high speed. IIRC she died at the scene - though it could have been later at the hospital. That's when the consensus changed to bikes not being on the sidewalk at all.
hamish (not verified)
transferring riskMon, 05/05/2008 - 12:57
It's a good phrase from Ben - and one level he's absolutely correct that it's not okay to be transferring the risk to pedestrians by avoiding the on-street cartillery. But the risks to a cyclist tend to be greater while on the road, and while a cyclist can inflict a lot of harm onto a pedestrian, it's rare that they're killed.
The City is failing to provide safe passage for cyclists! On Roncesvalles, the utility trench is right where cyclists ride and it's horribly patched and is too rough to ride on. We're supposed to ride on that for another year?
As for Bloor, there's no other more logical place to squeeze cars than beside the subway, and the cops are not just human, they're often "carist" as well - ask Geoffrey. That said, there are a lot of cyclists who blow through stops/lights etc. - and sometimes that makes it really really hard to push for more bike lanes....
Ronces, & ripped up bike lane.Tue, 05/06/2008 - 02:31
@Hamish, "On Roncesvalles, the utility trench is right where cyclists ride..."
When northbound on Ronces, ride on the concrete patch just East of the Eastern most TTC track. You'll avoid the bumps, the car doors flying open and the pedestrians entering the street without looking.
Northbound Ronces (right beside the parked cars) is really too bumpy to ride on unless you have a full suspension mountain bike, and are willing to be hit by car doors.
Why do the utility companies constantly destroy that part of the pavement (Ronces, Dundas, College)?
Because that's where the utilities are. Go to Yonge and Bloor tomorrow and you'll see that right now the SE corner has been excavated to reveal all the utilities below. You'll see water, electric, possibly sewer and phone too, are right under the area just W of where a car would park.
If the province forced utilities to cut only under parked cars.. well they'd be confronted with the fact that, when cutting beside the desired target and working laterally towards traffic, there is a possibility that the lane overhead may collapse (esp. when cars decide to drive over it). So it just makes sense to cut up the bike lane and vertically reach the existing utilities, until such time that all utilities are physically moved to under where cars usually park (but that movement is not going to happen, but I'd vote for anyone who did implement such a law).
FWIW: You can't blame the city. Utility companies are given carte blanche to rip up whatever they want whenever they want. (That right is given to them by the province so as to not impair trade/market/whatever). Prime example.. St George St. After the Uni paved the road with cobble stones.. a utility company came in did what they wanted and then poured asphalt over it. :/
BTW: Thanks I Bike TO for the news about the bike blitz. I have to find and install that useless bell again.
Tone (not verified)
Utilities ...Tue, 05/06/2008 - 10:38
I have no problem with the fact that utilities need to cut into the pavement to do work ... anyone who uses water or accesses the internet or a whole host of things we do without thinking during the day benefits from such activities.
What makes me irrationally crazy is the fact that, when they are done, they don't actually fix the road properly. They seem to fill the trench in with cold patch, kind of tamp it down and call it a day. Once a few days passes and the patch settles, you end up with pavement that feels like riding on the surface of the moon.
There is probably a very good reason for this, but I think the rule should be if you did it up, you put it back the way you found it (or better)!
hamish (not verified)
ronces, utilities, etc.Tue, 05/06/2008 - 11:00
I'm not totally comfortable riding so close to the streetcar rail, nor do I really like being so much in the streetcar lane as the motor vehicles will tend to accumulate behind, thus slowing the streetcar.
There's some wisdom in just having an asphalt patch due to settling issues, but there are so many holes, it does create trouble. Cnclr Walker has pushed on this one. And surely the City has some power to reject substandard patchwork or never hire some companies....
I hope toroadie can put two cents worth into the Ronces Rebuild EA just underway, he/she may be closer.
Urban sidewalk riding is much more trouble than suburban sidewalks in my view, and it's amazing in north Bathurst for instance, how much coloured concrete was poured for a splash zone though it's too expensive to use for bike lanes, and we couldn't have it beside the sidewalk either cause that would condone sidewalk cycling...
Ronces RebuildTue, 05/06/2008 - 16:09
Thanks for mentioning the the Rebuild Ronces website. The fact that it will NOT include a cycling path is unforgivable. Is Perks asleep?.
The fact that the site's FAQ doesn't cover how bump outs will affect cyclists is an expected oversight.
In the video.. I passed 5 cars and 3 bikes.. 3:5 is a large ratio.
I'm also gathering similar video on my daily commutes to work (sadly not on Ronces any more since I moved). Along Queen and King I find similar numbers. Every block on Queen I'm passing two to three bikes and three to ten cars. Daily I witness bikes making up a size able chunk of the traffic, sometimes half the traffic, almost always more than 10 percent.
Yeah.. biased sampling.. whatever.. that's what I see immediately before me every day.
chephy (not verified)
How nice. First, let's makeMon, 05/05/2008 - 22:43
How nice. First, let's make sure the cyclists in the city have no safe place to ride other than the sidewalk, or small sideroads littered with stop signs. Then let's ticket them for riding on the sidewalk and rolling through stop signs. The most disgusting and hypocritical tactic ever. You should first give people a chance to follow the law without getting killed or severely inconvenienced every time they go riding, and only then do you enforce it.
I guess I gotta remember to come to a full stop at stop signs this week. Thanks for the reminder. At least I don't do sidewalk riding, so no danger here (but really I can't blame those who do, as long as they do it responsibly).
AnalogyTue, 05/06/2008 - 12:10
If bikes lanes were wide enough that a car (or motorcycle) could weave through them at the same time cyclists were using them, I doubt anyone would be standing up for the motorist.
Actually, they are...Tue, 05/06/2008 - 13:09
they're called roads, and they're what the city expects cyclists, including children, to use the vast majority of the time to get around.
Annie (in response to "If bike lanes were wide enough for cars...")
redphone (not verified)
Whenever I go up onTue, 05/06/2008 - 16:03
Whenever I go up on sidewalks, I always slow to a crawl - the same pace as the pedestrians. The only reason I even stay on my bike is because I take up less space than if I was walking beside it. I never pass them, I stop if the person in front of me stops. Why? Because I know full well they have the right of way and I'm privileged to be allowed to bend the rules and ride the side walk in the first place. I would graciously accept a ticket should an officer choose to do so. I made the choice to break that law.
I roll through stop signs when I'm too lazy to stop. Again, I chose to break that law and would graciously accept the ticket should I be caught.
The only time I would be genuinely upset to receive a ticket is when riding the wrong way on a one way street. When I choose to do that, it's not because I'm taking a short cut, it's because I'm choosing the safer route. I've had enough repeated close calls in certain bits of road and intersections that I've chosen alternate routes. This is the one ticket I'd fight in court.
stuart (not verified)
again todayWed, 05/07/2008 - 08:44
As a side note, the police had people pulled over today again on Beverly. This time they had a cyclist and a car pulled over.
I know this isn't a popular sentiment...Wed, 05/07/2008 - 09:30
...but I hope the blitz actually accomplishes something, though I doubt it will.
Over the past few years I have noticed an ever-increasing number of cyclists on our roads, much to my delight and joy. This spring, already, I see many many more. The problem is, many of the cyclists pose a danger to both themselves and me. It's as if most think that merely being able to pedal a bicycle is all the skill they need to negotiate downtown urban traffic. I notice the vast majority do not use any lights whatsoever at night, none seem to do shoulder-checks, many seem to weave and wobble all over the bike lane, most breeze right through stop signs without even a brief pause or glance to either side even when other vehicles have arrived first and have the right of way, many skip right around stopped cyclists at red-lights and cruise on through as if the red light does not apply to them. And many seem to have a nasty habit of riding on the wrong side of the street. This danger is compounded when they are riding at night and without lights. I can't see them until we're almost face to face and we both take evasive action (in spite of the fact that I have a very bright front light announcing to them I am there).
I applaud folks for turning to their bicycles for transportation and I don't get all upset if they are just learning how to ride in the urban jungle or make poor decisions sometimes. But I fear for their safety (and occasionally my own). Some things are just reckless and stupid. Others are not, such as the other day when six cyclists all arrived at the same stop-sign controlled (4-way) intersection, none with the intention of actually stopping (myself included) and with slowing down and making eye contact we all proceeded through safely and efficiently.
But with more cyclists comes more inexperienced, uneducated cyclists who make some poor decisions that can potentially affect other cyclists, pedestrians and, yes, even motorists. Maybe the efforts of the TPS might encourage some of these cyclists to buy lights and observe a little more courtesy and common sense. Sadly, I suspect few will get the message.
Anonymous (not verified)
Bike CopsWed, 05/07/2008 - 09:45
Funny how the cops are trying to inforce proper cycling conduct with this so called blitz. I got stopped a while back for not fully stopping at a stop sign but did look in all direction and was going slower than a pedestrian crossing the street at the same time and direction!! I was given a lecture on how to cycle but fortunetly no ticket.
Yesterday I became enraged when a saw, not one but four bike cops cyling down the sidewalk at King and Yonge like there were going on a picnic or something.... there just a bunch of Hypocrites!!.
stuart (not verified)
Shortly after I saw theWed, 05/07/2008 - 10:46
Shortly after I saw the police ticketing people this morning, in front of the star bucks at Queen and John there was a cop car parked half on the side walk / half on the road, and the cop was inside getting a coffee.
It is depressing to think that these are the people responsible for enforcing traffic rules.
Fun cop encounter on AnnetteWed, 05/07/2008 - 11:06
I actually had a fun cop encounter on Annette St. this morning.
As I was riding westbound at around laws St. or Evelyn Ave., I noticed a cop with a radar gun. We made eye contact, then he put on this really serious face and pointed the radar gun at me. I gave the thumbs-up, and we both laughed.
That's the one section of Annette St. where the road gets really wide with no parking on either side, so motorists probably speed right along there more often. Also right in front of a school... I hope that any kind of speed enforcement along there is actually doing some good.
Still two more cars parked in the Runnymede Bike Lane this morning though. No enforcement on that....
hamish (not verified)
all cops aren't carist; bumpouts badin winterWed, 05/07/2008 - 22:59
Some cops are quite good with bikes, and we do have a lot of bike cops.
Some cyclists are dangerous dorks and passholes.
The bumpouts possible for Ronces have been horrible in the downtown core on St. George andCOllege and Spadina, because the city is unable or unwilling to plow them of snow in wintertime so the cars park further out and not on the snowbank. Trouble is the further out is often the full bike lane - and I was able to register that complaint again with the Works Cttee today with pictures from a couple of years ago. So these bumpouts are trouble and we must not let them be installed until the city can clear what's been built.
I've always contended...Thu, 05/08/2008 - 10:36
...that if cars are unable to park in their designated space due to snow, ice or any other obstacle, they are not entitled to keep parking further and further out into the roadway, especially when there are bike lanes adjacent to parking spaces. The law says there is no stopping or parking in bike lanes. period. It doesn't say cars can park there if they can't get into their own space. Police should be ticketing offending vehicles every time, but we all know the reality of police targeting vehicles and motorists who inconvenience, threaten or endanger cyclists.
A.R. (not verified)
On the blitzFri, 05/09/2008 - 01:24
This is a welcome blitz and I won't be affected, as I do stop at stop signs. Bicycles have a right to the road, why neglect that? The sidewalk presents too many risks and dangers. In the Junction I've noticed that sidewalk cyclists are very common. And yet Dundas West is hardly a dangerous ride.
tweeFri, 05/09/2008 - 08:27
That's a twee answer, isn't it? I have 32km to bike commute with suburban autoheads. I'll do whatever I want to get home safe, without endangering anyone else. Yes, I'll ride on empty sidewalks, and blow stopsigns when I'm sure there is no other traffic. Good heavens!
Wait a second...Fri, 05/09/2008 - 15:53
Okay, you've confused me. You say:
How does blowing stop signs help you get home safely? Isn't it sort of the opposite of being safe, since there's a chance that there could be a car you didn't see?
I don't think you're wrong for doing it (breaking the law, sure, but not wrong), but it's not really consistent with your first statement...
A.R. (not verified)
On sidewalk ridingSat, 05/10/2008 - 01:19
Since you have the right to use the road, maintain your presence there. If people are passing you too closely, it's an unsafe situation, take the lane. It's within reason. We need to stop reinforcing the conception that bicycles have no place on suburban roads, that it's not legitimate form of transportation. The matter's not twee, it's radical. It's about allowing the law to empower you against suburban ignorance and recklessness.
Taking the lane.Sat, 05/10/2008 - 07:38
This will do nothing to stop people from passing you too closely, sometimes they will pass even closer. It will however give you more buffer room, a place to bail, to the right if needed to avoid a sideswipe. In a lot of cases it will also increase the hostility of the drivers.
The law will have no value in overcoming 'ignorance' as a driver rides up your bumper screaming, "get off the road or I am going to kill you!" Your reliance on the law will be after the fact - at trial, provided you live. It does not help either that many have their own unique understanding of the law, it is not uncommon to find people who believe that it is ok to hit a cyclist if they are riding illegally.
I take the lane because I believe it is a safer practice but I am under no illusion that it it 100% foolproof. I have been doing a unscientific count of cars passing me for the last year or so, 30% will pass at a comfortable distance, 50%-65% will pass at an uncomfortable distance, the remainder will act in aggression. The numbers hold true at 530am with very few cars on the road and during rush hour. Other cyclists have found different numbers riding in different geographic areas but the news is not any better.
An uncomfortable distance for me is if I can touch the car with my arm bent. I am comfortable with an arm's length away.
8sml (not verified)
Different experiencesSat, 05/10/2008 - 08:41
Sometimes, hearing other cyclists' experiences, it's hard to believe we ride in the same city. Using Darren's rubric of comfortable = at least arm's length and uncomfortable = touching the car with bent arm, I would estimate that 90% of cars pass at a comfortable distance and 10% of cars pass at an uncomfortable distance (I usually ride about 1 m from the curb; sometimes I take the lane, esp. when turning left or when going straight through an intersection from the right lane). I find it extremely rare to have cars act towards me in aggression, although I usually get a couple per ride where they act carelessly and I have to anticipate that they are going to turn in front of me--I guess I really don't know whether they are acting carelessly or aggressively but given the lack of evil-eye stares and horn-honking I receive, I usually guess carelessly.
I point this out because I'm genuinely curious as to how Darren and I can have such different cycling experiences. And it's not just Darren--I hear from a lot of cyclists that have bad perceptions of traffic here, and I also hear from cyclists who don't have very many problems. I consider myself an assertive cyclist, riding in sometimes very heavy or fast (70 km/h) traffic, and I do most of my riding downtown and from there out to Mississauga (i.e. I do both downtown and suburban riding). Why does he find the roads so hostile while I find them good or neutral?
Difference in experiencesSat, 05/10/2008 - 09:49
Good questions. What are acceptable numbers for errant behaviour? Is 10% of drivers acting carelessly or aggressively an acceptable number. Regardless of the root cause, 1 in 10 of those drivers has put you in a position with reduced options if something unforeseen goes wrong. Common example is a vehicle pulling a wider trailer than it. So the driver passes you you closely and everything is fine, then you get hit by the trailer cause it is wider than the pulling vehicle. I do not know of any safety program in any other activity that accepts numbers as high as 10%.
Two roads I use on my afternoon commute are Gerrard and Coxwell. The lanes on these streets are pretty narrow and that could be a cause of my high numbers. Yet when I am on Danforth at 530 in the morning sharing the road with a handful of cars there are drivers intent at aiming their cars at me. It is beyond me how a driver who has to share a road that is at least two half lanes wide finds it necessary to attempt to brush up beside me, rev his engine and then try cutting me off. Without fail, in my 5km use of Danforth in the morning I am passed by maybe 50 cars, if that. At least two of them will need to act aggressively. It is not like they cannot see me, I am pretty well lit up.
On streets that have no lane markings or centreline I find that cars give me an excessive amount of room and that might be a clue. Cause when I watch drivers on roads with lane markings, they will attempt to move over when passing me but seem to stop at crossing the lane marking to their left.
Anonymous (not verified)
Bike CopsWed, 05/21/2008 - 20:01
Bike cops are the biggest hypocrites going, i was riding down yonge from bloor just about to go round a parked van, when all of a sudden 4 bike cops come steaming up the hill,on the wrong side of the road, forcing me and the van beside me to slam our brakes on, they then look at me as if i have done something wrong, and not a word of thanks or sorry, but what can you say, you turn around and yell at them they arrest you for being abuisve, never mind the fact that they are breaking the law and endangering me and themselves.
most of them dont know how to ride properly anyway, just get in the way and go really slowly, espically the parking enforcement cops, bloody menace on wheels
Wheelers Wheel (not verified)
bike copsThu, 05/22/2008 - 22:22
well they have a few really enthusiastic cops who want to be out in the fresh air riding bicycles. THen when they cant get enough of them they get them all to stand in a line and they pick out the ones who are big and fat and give them cycles. These cops are pissed off most of the time cause they have to ride a crummy mountain bike aound in the sun, instead of a nice cushy air conditioned cruiser! Actually its a proven fact that cycle cops are a crtical response unit, lets get them to be a critical mass as well! After their tour of duty on their bikes they drive home in their Lexus or Porsches and sit on the porch beer in hand watching their kids riding across the lawn!!
The only advantage a bike has over a cruiser is that its easier to hide a bike at the Tim Hortons than it is a cruiser!!! LOL
A.R. (not verified)
+Sat, 05/10/2008 - 01:30
There's also the fact that a driver approaching the street you're taking from a side road is less likely to notice you coming if you're riding on the sidewalk.
Anonymous (not verified)
cash grabSun, 06/22/2008 - 14:07
It seems to me this "safety bike campaign" is nothing more than the police dept getting some quick cash. i got 2 tickets for not having a horn and not having a light on my bike at 8:30 sunday morning - $145!!!
I don't need a light on a sunny sunday morning and if I need to warn someone I'm approaching I yell. A bell does not make cycling safer when you're outside downtown TO, better roads, cycling lanes and better driver education does.
The police need to use some discretion and think for themselves instead of just blindly enforcing the letter of the law - but then again, if your real purpose is to raise some quick cash this is what you do I guess.
John (not verified)
Only need lights at nightSun, 06/22/2008 - 16:37
If you got a ticket for not having lights at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, you should be able to fight it.
Section 62(17) of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act states
Sunrise this time of year is around 5:30 in the morning, and I strongly doubt that cloud cover would be enough to require lights, either. I suspect the cop was unfamiliar with how the law applies to bicycles. Take it to court!