Saturday, April 12, 2008

bicycles and Ontario/ Waterloo law/bylaw

D: I looked up the various regulations, and was sometimes surprised by what I found. (neat idea but the links don't work)

Under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) of Ontario, the definition of a
vehicle includes a bicycle. A driver of a bicycle has the same rights
and responsibilities as a motorist. Like motorists, a cyclist must
follow the rules of the road as specified in the HTA.

Improper Lane Choice

Section 154 (1)(c) requires drivers to move in the direction designated
for the lane they are in. This includes cyclists. Despite this, it is
common at any multi-lane intersection to observe cyclists riding
straight through from the "right turn only" lane, usually from the right
hand side of the painted line separating the through and turn lane. A
cyclist who practices this typically does it out of fear of being hit
from behind by a motorized vehicle moving through the intersection. In
reality, there is more to fear from being in the "right turn only" lane.
The cyclist not only impedes right turning vehicles, but also risks
being struck by vehicles crossing his path because vehicle drivers will
assume that he is going to turn right from the turn lane. Should a
collision occur, it is likely that the cyclist will be held liable.

Riding in Crosswalks from Bike Paths

Section 144 (29) forbids riding in crosswalks. The law makes no
distinction between crosswalks at bike path/roadway intersections and
crosswalks at regular intersections. Therefore cyclists using bike paths
should be dismounting at intersections and walking their bicycles in the
crosswalk. Few do.

When a bike path intersects at the intersection of roadways (those on
Riverside Drive along the Rideau River are examples), navigation for
cyclists becomes more complex. Not only is there the normal traffic flow
on the road, but there is the two-way bike path traffic heading in any
one of three directions to contend with. Intersections are where the
largest number of car/bike collisions occur. The addition of a bike path
at an intersection explains why more car/bike collisions occur on bike
paths than on the adjacent roadways.

D: don't use the following generally- just follow the rules.
The second key point is that you will not receive demerit point on your
driver's license if you don't /volunteer/ it as identification to the
police. If you simply state your name and address when asked, that is
enough in Ontario, and in any jurisdictions where actual ID is required,
then show your student card, credit card, birth certificate, YMCA
membership card, or /anything/ but your driver's license (unless you
/specifically/ have to, which you don't in Canada). If you don't offer
the police your driver's license, you will not get demerit points.

* Bicycles are slow vehicles, and so must travel as far to the right
as practicable [HTA 147], except when turning or passing. You can
ride out from the curb as far as is needed to stay in a straight
line path, typically a metre or so, but you may occupy any part of
the lane if it is warranted by your safety.
D: even though you may need to occupy a line for safety, you still cannot ride two abreast. Tough luck- single file! Of course, with 2 lanes, this doesn't really block traffic. But without a good road edge or a bike lane, you risk hitting the curb if you try to hold too far right.
I occupy about a metre, allowing for my width plus buffers. Oddly, that is the size of a typical bike lane! There is a very good reason to not have bike lanes too wide- but wide enough.
Cars will turn or park in them. But at the same time, a typical recumbent trike needs a full metre - no less. Old folks on old-style trikes also need the extra width. This makes bike lanes inclusive for our aging population.

D: helmets, reflectors and lights are NOT optional.
If a police officer sees a minor without a helmet, or with their
helmet not done up, a warning is guaranteed, and the $75 fine is
not unlikely.

* If you ride between 30 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes before
sunrise, you need a white light (not just a reflector), and a red
rear reflector or red rear light [HTA 62]. Technically, a light
mounted on the body doesn't count. The fine is $35.

You need a bell or horn attached to the bike [HTA 75 (5)]. The
idea is to maintain courtesy, such as with pedestrians, and they
only cost a few bucks. The fine is $105.

* All bicycles must have brakes, at least on the rear wheel. The
fine is $105.

* You need reflective tape on stays and forks, white at the front,
red at the back [HTA 62 (17)]. The tape must be at least 2.5 cm
wide and 25 cm long...

D: tally up these fines. Riding a beater home at night could cost you c. $500.
It is silly for a cyclist to cheap out on this stuff. You are hurting nobody but yourself.
I am bewildered by cyclists riding at night, in dark clothing, on the edge of the road with no lights. My friends have very nearly accidentally hit such foolish persons, who were saved by a lucky flash off a pedal reflector- a tiny one square inch piece of material. It is your head and body - and your wallet. I will say no more.

D: local Waterloo bylaw are as follows.

For the purposes of this By-law, the following definitions shall apply:
(a) “Bicycle” shall mean and includes a tricycle and unicycle but does not include a motor
assisted bicycle.
2. BICYCLE includes a tricycle having a wheel or wheels of more than 50
centimetres in diameter.
D: Huh! In theory, a small-wheeled bicycle... isn't?!

BICYCLE LANE is a dedicated portion of the road for bicycle use, which is
designated by a lane marking separating the portion of road used by motor
vehicles from the portion of road used by bicycles.

Driving On Other Than A Roadway
No persons shall drive a motor vehicle, a motor assisted bicycle or a bicycle
along any sidewalk or boulevard except at a driveway.
D: note that a motor-assisted bicycle... isn't. It is akin to a moped or scooter.
I think it requires licensing and all that. Of course, if you can keep up to 50kph traffic, there is no need for special bicycle lanes. Travelling at 10-40kph just makes a bicycle a traffic hazard!
(a) Operation of Bicycles
Every rider of a bicycle shall when riding such a vehicle on a roadway
drive with due care and attention giving regard to pedestrians and other
(b) Riding Abreast
No person shall ride a bicycle on any roadway abreast of another bicycle
except in the course of passing the other bicycle.
(c) Passengers
(i) No persons shall on a roadway, while riding a bicycle designed
to carry one persons only, carry another person on the bicycle unless
in a carrier specifically designed and attached thereto for that
(ii) No person shall while riding a bicycle on a roadway carry any
goods thereon in such manner as to interfere with the rider having
full control of the bicycle.
(d) Parking
(i) No person shall park a bicycle on any roadway.
(ii) No person shall park a bicycle on any boulevard, sidewalk or
shoulder except in an upright position.

D: I ran into some obscure stuff about bicycle parking. I am not sure where they are legally allowed to park. Without sufficient bicycle stands, the point is moot anyway.
D: here is a terrific local bike blog through the Record.
It has a different emphasis than what my blog is aiming at.

D: after some thought, I have chosen as an adult to wear a helmet.
Here is an article on bike helmets from our very own UW prof:

Michalenko is appalled by the views of anyone advocating "wind-in- your-hair carefree cycling" in opposing bicycle helmet legislation. He and Cheryl Hendrickson, a staff member with Alternatives Journal in UW's Faculty of Environmental Studies, have sparred over conflicting views about enforcing lids on cyclists. She believes there's too much government "interference" into guarding personal safety or risk-taking.

"It's a totally insupportable viewpoint because if I wear this simple device, I could save my brain and I recognize that," she says. "When it came down that we were going to be legislated into wearing helmets, I got very angry. It's not so much that I think that I have the free right to smash my brains all over the pavement -- it comes from a feeling that society or the state is so safety conscious as to eliminate any sort of risk."

D: well, actually... there IS a position against this.

Last September a plucky psychologist at the University of Bath in
England announced the results of a study in which he played both
researcher and guinea pig. An avid cyclist, Ian Walker had heard several
complaints from fellow riders that wearing a helmet seemed to result in
bike riders receiving far less room to maneuver?effectively increasing
the chances of an accident. So, Walker attached ultrasonic sensors to
his bike and rode around Bath, allowing 2,300 vehicles to overtake him
while he was either helmeted or naked-headed. In the process, he was
actually contacted by a truck and a bus, both while helmeted?though,
miraculously, he did not fall off his bike either time.

His findings, published in the March 2007 issue of /Accident Analysis &
Prevention,/ state that when Walker wore a helmet drivers typically
drove an average of 3.35 inches closer to his bike than when his noggin
wasn't covered. But, if he wore a wig of long, brown locks?appearing to
be a woman from behind?he was granted 2.2 inches more room to ride.
D: here is a very frustrated writer about the state of cycling in Toronto.
"What I'm talking about is how poorly cyclists are treated in this city. For anyone who has seen the cycling cultures of Europe - or even that perennial, so-called third-world city of Bogota, Colombia - the backwardness of this city is frustrating.

What is more frustrating is that cyclist put up with it. If ever there was a situation where the analogy of the frog in a pot of boiling water could be fairly used it is this one. You know, if a frog is put in a pot of room temperature water on a stove and the heat is gradually increased, the frog will not jump out until, well, it is too late.

Cyclists in this city are like that. In spite of the number of people who own bikes and would like to commute if they felt safe, city officials continue to dismiss us as just a bunch of disenfranchised bike couriers (no offense to bike couriers here who know exactly what I mean because they have to deal with city streets all day long). Yet we do nothing even with the potentially significant political force we represent.

In spite of the number of preventable injuries and deaths caused by policy decisions made by city hall, cyclists just sit back and take it. In spite of cyclists who get ticketed for riding the wrong way down streets they live on because traffic planners designed them for cars, not cyclists, they take it. Why? Because over time we have come to think that it can be no other way. Cars and their drivers are king or so we've come to accept."

D: Since I never smack my head except when being run over by vehicles, I am not terribly worried about that aspect - catching a 30-50kph vehicle in the head will be terminal anyway.
No, I use my helmet as a mounting system for lights. You see, my bike-mounted lights, frame or handlebars, don't point where I want to go, or at a driver I am concerned about. I jury-rigged a very cheap helmet fore/aft light system with a few dollars of hardware parts.
The helmet light is not to illuminate road features for me. I use it, flashing, strictly to be more visible to cars. The need to see glass and objects and roadkill on less illuminated stretches of bike lane is handled with a powerful new bike-mounted light on the handlebars. It needs to show obstacles on the road with enough seconds of warning that I can react to them.
I tried mounting a mirror, but they are flimsy, annoyingly in the way and cause eye strain. There is one helmet on the market with this nifty integrated mirror, but it did not pass safety standards.

Sure I look unbelievably dorky. But I think not getting run over is kinda cool.
I don't want to die young and leave a good looking corpse.
I want to die old, having lived a full life, and leave an ugly one.


David LaButte said...

Finely a blog with answers to "bicycle lane laws, etc. I want more info on this subject. Is this a municpal or provincial law?

dino snider said...

At Weber & Northfield, there is a bike lane facing the uptown. At a red light I get honked at for -wait for it- being in the bike lane. It gets converted by drivers into a right hand turn lane. Not my F'n problem. They get 'the bird' for that. Obnoxious. I also got harassed for being in the bike lane - left of the right hand turn lane - toward UW on Northfield from there. There is no winning.

Leanne said...

Thank you for posting this. I was looking up information on cycling laws after a rude neighbour stepped purposefully into the path of my child who is just learning to bike and screamed at us to get on the road. We will be avoiding her area until my kid is old enough to do hand-signals without tipping over since she's legally in the right.

Kaze no Honoo said...

Thank you for your post. Can you add a line in the blog stating that by Bicycle treated like a vehicle that they should follow the road signs? Because I find that is the most point that cyclist forget, they think they're like pedestrians and have the right of the way. They need to stop at STOP signs just like all cars. I believe now there's even signs at the Stop signs to remind the cyclists to dismount and walk across stop signs.