First Sidewalk post of 2013

Got a question from a reader about whether the sidewalk law in Kitchener-Waterloo is enforced.

My experience tells me it’s not enforced. I’ve never been stopped for riding on a sidewalk. I’ve never seen anyone stopped for riding on a sidewalk and lastly I’ve never heard of anyone stopped for riding on a sidewalk.

And yes if you’re riding on a sidewalk in K-W and your wheel diameter is more than 50cm then your in violation of the by-law, it’s not in my understanding violating the highway traffic act. (If you ride a Brompton (folding bike) then I presume you’re ok!)

The rumour I’ve heard (and I can’t remember where) is that police do not enforce the by-law cause they’d rather not have cyclists sharing the road with motor vehicles.

It is a question that we’ve debated before, check out Rob’s post and the commentary entitled ‘Yet Another Sidewalk Cycling Post‘.  Also another local bicycle blog has ‘running’ commentary on Waterloo’s bylaw amongst other laws: K-W bicycle blog: bicycles and Ontario / Waterloo law/bylaw.

The reason this question caught my attention is because tonight I rode a fair distance on the sidewalk. I had to pick up my kids tonight up near Erbsville and then trailer them back to Uptown Waterloo. I was planning on talking the trail around Conservation Lake and then hook up with the Laurel Trail through the University and then through Waterloo Park. Only the trail was closed, presumably due to downed trees from last week’s ice storm. So I took the kids in the Trailer using the sidewalk from Beaver Creek and Fischer-Hallman to Columbia and Westmount before jumping on the University trails to Ring Road to Seagram drive and then into Waterloo Park.

The reason I took the trailer on the sidewalk on that stretch is that in parts it’s too narrow, too many cars, higher speeds and my cargo too precious. On that section I passed one jogger, who was the only pedestrian and for the record that segment has zero driveways.

If it’s just me, I never take the sidewalk, but I’m much more sensitive to safety when I’m trailering my kids. I also wore my helmet, potholes are everywhere this time of year.

4 thoughts on “First Sidewalk post of 2013

  1. I find in St. Catharines, cops are really only serious about enforcing the sidewalk law downtown. More crowed sidewalks, people coming out of stores etc.
    When I started riding, I did nothing but ride on the sidewalk. Now it feels weird. But we also don’t have the roads like you do in Waterloo. Max speed on 95% of city roads is 50km/h, and for the most part people are still respectful here towards bikes.

    I actually had a motorist (back in the sidewalk riding days) yell at me to “get on the road”.

  2. The police seem to actively target the older and less affluent men who ride on sidewalks Uptown, but thats likely less about cycling and more about poverty.

  3. I once saw a cop tell someone riding on the sidewalk (King St, downtown Kitchener) to get off their bike or get off the road. But that’s one exception among hundreds of times I’ve seen people riding bikes along that same sidewalk and others without any notice from cops.

    It’s frustrating when I’m a pedestrian because I know that road is wonderfully bikeable, so there’s no good reason that I should have to move to make room for a cyclist on the sidewalk.

  4. I get pretty worked up when I see people not use the specified bike lanes while I’m driving. I can go from shaking my head to yelling at them (with all my windows up of course) because I see sidewalk biking just a terrible idea overall. The only time I find it acceptable is if you’re biking with a young one beside you. It’s a pretty big pet peve of mine, the way I see it is that if people don’t use these designated bike lanes – who’s going to build them. I’d like to see bike lanes on King street between downtown and uptown – I biked that stretch last weekend, and while most people pulled into the next lane, there were still others who didn’t bother pulling over (when they clearly had room) and just drove right by me as if I wasn’t even there :).

    With bikes being all over the place, I can understand why they should be on the road – I think the police should enforce the bike law, and at the same time, have more bike lanes so that there is no excuse to be driving on the side walk.

    In your case though, I’d do much of the same thing – Precious cargo, is indeed precious cargo.

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