While driving with my 85 year old father a while back we got to talking about cycling. Dad commented that there is always that “age old debate” on whether you should cycle on the road or on the sidewalk. I replied that there is no debate and that the Ontario Highway Traffic Act is clear. Bicycles are vehicles and are required to ride on the road. I went on to say that they are also required to ride with traffic or in other words in the same direction as a car.
I find myself wondering when it was that it was ever deemed to be ok to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk such that people think that is where bikes belong. In addition, the majority of all vehicle collisions occur at intersections, therefore riding on a sidewalk does nothing to prevent this conflict. In many cases, cyclists riding on a sidewalk often ride facing traffic resulting in a collision because they did not stop for a pedestrian cross-walk.
People also believe that bikes belong on the right hand side of the road and nowhere else. In times past where the majority of urban roadways were single traffic lanes in each direction, it was easy to ride on the right hand side and nowhere else. However, with urban roads now containing dedicated left turn lanes and dedicated right turn lanes cyclists are required to ride “in traffic”. Some motor vehicle operators chose not to understand that this is where bikes belong. I say chose because that is exactly what it is. They are making a choice to not “share the road”.
We can spend a ton of time arguing about the rights of the road, but to what end? For those who require the language, it is an offense to fail to share the road with a bicycle. More importantly, I believe we need to want to live in community with others. We need to want to share the road.