Cyclists Behaving Badly, What Can Be Done About It?

by | July 19, 2017
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Before I start this blog, I should mention that I am a cyclist myself and an advocate for more dedicated bicycle lanes for cyclists who commute and ride for pleasure.

I have wanted to write this blog for sometime now, but I decided to do it now because of media talk of having cyclists needing licences and be insured. Besides being a tax on those who can not afford insurance for their bicycle and would discourage people from cycling, the licensing of bicycles and the riders would be a bureaucratic nightmare that would cost the City of Toronto more money to administrate than the revenue it would generate. That being said, I think there should be some sort of licensing and regulations around commercial cyclists such as bike couriers and other bicycle deliver drivers.

Since moving downtown 3 years ago and giving up my car, my bicycle, walking and public transit have been my main transportation modes, this has really opened my eyes to cyclist behaving badly. I even made a video of bicycle zipping through Allen Gardens (which has signs saying “No bicycling allowed” [By-Law #608-29(A)]) and even confronted some riders to point out the bylaw signs (which got me told off with expletives). I should mention that I spoke to some bylaw enforcement officer in the park one day and they say they can not enforce those bylaws, but police can (but wont).  I have also watched pedestrians getting off the Sherbourne bus almost get hit by cyclist who do not yield to the open doors of the bus and mount the sidewalk to avoid doing so. Don’t get me started on cyclists who weave in an out of traffic and then blame a car driver that they rode into.

(Side Rant) Then you get those EBikes (that are not really electric bicycles) that think they can travel in the bicycle lanes and on sidewalks. They should not be classified as bicycles, as the are electric scooters with pedals (pedals that can not be pedaled unless you are a strong rider and bow legged). These scooters need to be licensed as a motorized vehicle and the riders need to have motorcycle driver licenses.

Ok, back to the purpose of this blog. So what need to be done about cyclist behaving badly? Trying to license cyclists and their bikes is not the answer, education and dedicated bicycle enforcement would be a much better option. Education can take a few forms:

  • Kids in primary school should be mandated to take a bicycle safety course and then a remedial course in high school.
  • PSA’s (Public Service Announcements) about the rules of the road for cyclists should be done not only on broadcast media, but also done on social media platforms.
  • When a police officer observes a cyclist not following all the rules, they should be able to issue a non-fine ticket forcing the rider to take a bicycle safety course that will teach them the rules of the road. Failing to take the course would then result in a fine (similar to traffic school in the USA)

I do not have all the answers, but something needs to be done about the bad cyclists that give all the responsible riders a bad name. The real solution to deal with bad cyclist is more enforcement of current laws and if a cyclist also has a drivers license, offenses such as running a red light or a stop sign can be counted against their drivers license. But in order to crack down on bad cyclists, a dedicated team of officers needs to be set up just to focus on bicycle riders, similar to traffic enforcement division.