Sidewalks aren’t for cyclists

The current city council has done a fair bit to make the roads of Prince George safer for cyclists.

I hope the next one will act to make the sidewalks safe FROM cyclists.

The Motor Vehicle Act of the province is quite clear. Bicycles are vehicles, and cannot legally be ridden on sidewalks. And yet we see it every day (at least during the biking season; not so much in winter), sometimes with the bike on a sidewalk right next to one of the new bicycle lanes.

One of the biggest arguments for spending money on bike lanes was the safety of the cyclists, since they weigh a lot less than other vehicles and would almost certainly come out second-best in the event of an incident.

Well, the same logic applies to bikes and pedestrians. The average cyclist weighs at least as much as the average pedestrian, and is moving at a higher rate of speed on the sidewalk, making them much more likely to inflict more damage on the pedestrian.

I mentioned my concerns about cyclists being on the sidewalk, and was told by cyclists: “It’s only a small percentage of the cyclists who are causing the problem.”

I’m not disagreeing, but some of those same cyclists agreed it was only a small percentage of motorists who caused problems for cyclists, and we spent a lot of money making the roads safer because of that small percentage of motorists.

Are we going to do the same to make the sidewalks safer because of a small percentage of cyclists?

On one recent trip through a residential area of the city (no bike lanes), the first cyclists I saw was travelling the same direction as me, on the same side of the road, wearing a helmet and keeping to the far right of the road.

In other words, he was obeying the Motor Vehicle Act in every regard.

I came around a corner and was confronted by three younger cyclists, riding on the wrong side of the road, with no helmets on, and with two of them riding side by side.

Many cyclists who abide by all other aspects of the Act apparently don’t realize riding side-by-side is illegal. The Act states all cyclists shall be as far to the right side of the road as is safe. By definition, the cyclist riding outside the other one is not as far to the right as he could be.

It will be interesting to see whether Council is as willing to act to protect pedestrians as they were to protect cyclists.