Have you ever been cut off by a cyclist on the sidewalk?
While many Victoria cyclists stick to the rules of the road, there are those who take liberties – using sidewalks to get from point A to point B.
Section 114 of Victoria’s streets and traffic bylaw states that cyclists over 16-years-old can’t ride bikes on sidewalks or paths that have signs indicating pedestrian use only. And those who choose to ignore the rules could face a $100 fine – reduced to $65 if paid within 30 days.
Cycling on the sidewalk should not be happening, said Corey Burger, policy and infrastructure chair of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition.
“It’s definitely not a good thing. It’s a space for people walking,” he said. “Mixing bikes and people walking is, in general – not a very good idea.”
But Burger said typically cyclists are on the sidewalk for a reason: they feel uncomfortable or unsafe on the street.
“What we know from other places … is that building good, protective bike lanes reduced sidewalk riding.”
The bike lane on Blanshard Street stops briefly between Pandora and Caledonia avenues, and cyclists often take to the sidewalk there, Burger said.
Another solution is education, he added. There is no mandated or universal cycling education on the Island.
“One of the challenges we have in North America, is we don’t really teach our kids how to bike very well,” Burger said. “A lot of parents will tell their kids ‘bike on the sidewalk’ because the parent feels it’s safer – and to a certain extent it is. But that becomes internalized and when that kid becomes an adult, they’re still riding on the sidewalk.”
“There’s evidence that training produces better cyclists,” he said, adding that as biking infrastructure evolves, training should evolve with it. “The world has changed downtown, until a couple years ago there wasn’t a single bike-specific signal in downtown.”
The City of Victoria agreed education is the first line of action.
“Staff always consider the situation. Sometimes we have visitors from out of town who are not familiar with rules of road,” said Bill Eisenhauer, Victoria’s head of engagement.
“Where voluntary compliance is achieved, often no other enforcement will be necessary. Should the same person be encountered later committing the same offence, a ticket would be an option. Most people encountered, apologize and move to the roadway or bike lane.”
Education and courses for all ages are offered by the Greater Victoria Bike to Work Society and GoByBikeBC. They also offer training for cyclists on topics such as basic traffic safety, bike maintenance, night riding and overcoming barriers to cycling.