Cycling the Trans-Canada Trail at Stittsville Village Square.
Last week a neighbour was knocked down by a cyclist on the Trans Canada Trail, parallel to Abbott Street. She required surgery for a broken elbow, needed 6 stitches for her forehead and suffered significant bruising to her face. The very same day, I was almost knocked down by cyclists on Main Street, near JoJo’s. My thought when I heard about my neighbour…“There, but for the grace of God, go I”.
I live in a senior community off Main Street where walking around the neighbourhood is becoming increasingly dangerous with the recent upsurge of cyclists, to the point that people are afraid to venture out on the sidewalk or trail.
My frustration and concern prompted some online research of the subject, with historic media coverage indicating that this problem is nothing new. There have been many attempts over the years to make the sidewalks and recreational paths safer for pedestrians. CBC news was dealing with this way back in 2010, regarding sidewalk cyclists and fines. In 2017 The Globe and Mail responded to the question “Is it Legal to Ride Your Bike on The Sidewalk?” Then, very recently on the local scene, there was a well presented letter to the Editor of Community Voice, by Michael Lotan, another Stittsville resident and a cyclist for over 75 years. (Links below to media references).
My own close encounter with a cyclist was when I heard someone call “Excuse me”, or something to that effect, not identifying who he was (a cyclist) or that he was passing on my right. Stunned, I froze mid step and fortunately managed to remain upright despite the fright. Once he passed I continued walking, only to then have another person, ring her bell as she passed me. Again, no warning as she approached, too late for that, and no indication of which side she was passing me on. She was then followed by 2 children on their bikes. How will they learn about safe cycling if their parents set poor examples and break the law?
Yes, it is against the law to cycle on sidewalks.
I myself am a cyclist so am familiar with courteous cycling practices. I obey the rules of the road as they pertain to cyclists and am familiar with the challenges of cycling in Stittsville. One incident in particular comes to mind.
Riding on the back streets, I was almost knocked down by a fellow cyclist who failed to stop at a Stop sign. Fortunately her husband called to her to stop and averted an accident, but it was a close call. He obeyed the Stop sign but it took a few desperate shouts before she finally braked and fortunately we didn’t collide. The two children, having followed Mum, also stopped in the middle of the intersection bewildered and vulnerable to cars which had the right of way. Dad was not happy, and nor was I, but I expect they have all obeyed Stop signs since then.
Last year Safer Roads Ottawa partnered with Stittsville Scouts and Girl Guides to hold a family bike rodeo here is Stittsville, with over 70 children and parents participating. Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, such educational opportunities are not available this year but there are quiet neighbourhoods and safe places to cycle. Local side streets are good places to gain road sense and develop safe cycling habits. A helpful resource, available online, is a kid friendly handbook from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. The Young Cyclist’s Guide is referenced below along with an adult’s guide plus other links to safe cycling information provided by various organizations and levels of government.
Regarding the law and cycling on sidewalks there were two things that I couldn’t find reference to:
1. The age at which it is legal for children in Ottawa to ride their bikes on the sidewalk, although I was told by a City of Ottawa employee that, contrary to the law, it is permitted for aged 12 and under.
2. I was also told by a friend that there is a certain wheel size which indicates if a bicycle is small enough to be used on the sidewalk.
If anyone has access to such information perhaps you would post the link in the Comment section to clarify the situation.
Please everyone, Stay Safe in all respects – Covid and otherwise, on pavements and on paths, on bicycles and on foot.
Some references for safe cycling tips and road rules are listed below:
Ontario Ministry of Transportation
- Young Cyclist’s Guide (PDF – 2.83 MB) : a kid-friendly handbook of cycling safety tips and rules for young riders
- Cycling Skills: Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling (PDF – 9 MB) : a detailed handbook of rules and safety standards for any rider
Cycling Safety – City of Ottawa – https://ottawa.ca/en/parking-roads-and-travel/road-safety/cycling-safety
Bicycle Safety – Ottawa Police Service – https://www.ottawapolice.ca/en/safety-and-crime-prevention/Bicycle-Safety.aspx
Bike Ottawa – Safe Cycling – https://bikeottawa.ca/safe-cycling/
Cycling and the Law/Ottawa Bicycle Club – https://www.ottawabicycleclub.ca/cycling-law
CycleON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy –http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/publications/cycleon-ontario-cycling-strategy.shtml#summary
- http://ottawavoice.ca/assets/stittsville-0716—web.pdf page 5.
SUPPORT LOCAL STITTSVILLE