Editor: A reader recently penned a letter to the editor with the warranted complaint that “young” cyclists riding on sidewalks threaten pedestrians with their unruly behaviour.
And why are they not using the bike lanes so generously provided? While riding on a sidewalk in the Township is permitted unless otherwise posted to the contrary, riding without due care and attention to the safety of the pedestrians is indefensible.
A current bylaw requires cyclists to ride no faster than 7 km/h while on the sidewalk, yield to pedestrians as well as announce their presence to pedestrians.
To expect young, inexperienced cyclists to ride in what is essentially traffic, with the location of the bike-lanes adjacent to traffic lanes, is not warranted.
The question is why are the lanes outside the parking spaces which are up against the curb or sidewalk?
Why are parked vehicles being protected from traffic with a cycle lane buffer while the vulnerable cyclist is exposed to vehicular traffic?
To those who disagree, I suggest you walk a block or two in a bike lane, with your back to the high speed traffic whizzing by, often within a metre or less of your left elbow; wide-bodied vehicle’s driver-side mirrors, and sometimes trailers, impedinging upon the bike lane; having to watch for and avoid being “doored” by drivers suddenly opening their doors without checking for cyclist in the lane; realizing that distracted driving is on the increase and see how quickly you get back on the sidewalk.
This is part of the mindset of the young, inexperienced cyclist, often accompanied by parental advise not to ride in traffic.
Even hard core, experienced cyclists try to avoid this kind of environment, which continues to be built because it is the cheapest way of supplying bike lanes.
With the Township providing a paltry $80,000 per year for bike infrastructure, in order to provide anything meaningful, the Traffic Engineering Department combines this funding with motor vehicular traffic improvement projects, which ends up being the exact kind of infrastructure that young and older cyclists avoid.
Perhaps with the Township exploring Community Amenity Contributions from windfall development, the funding coffers will grow, with some of it being directed towards building safe bicycle infrastructure which the “young” cyclists will use, returning sidewalks to pedestrians and the really young cyclists. It wouldn’t hurt either if funding was made available to local cycling advocacy groups to offer traffic safety training to these same young cyclists who wish to engage in this healthy recreational pursuit.
Cyclists, motorists and pedestrians can co-exist with the right infrastructure, supplemented with education and a community will to make it happen.