Markham asked to OK sidewalk bike riding
Fine for sidewalk cycling $2 under 1971 bylaw
March 12, 2015
By Laura Finney
Markham may be soon joining cities such as Vaughan and Burlington, by allowing cyclists to ride on sidewalks.
An advisory committee last week asked the city to look at the possibility of letting bikes use sidewalks in select locations.
“We have an interesting problem. We have policies encouraging cycling but very inadequate infrastructure, and an old, tired, unenforced bylaw,” said Peter Miasek, vice-chair of the Cycling and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, who made a brief presentation and recommendations.
Markham’s bylaw prohibits cycling on sidewalks, except by children on small bikes.
“The fine is $2, but it’s not enforced,” said Miasek, who added the bylaw was passed in 1971. “We have a very old bylaw.”
Markham does have some cycle friendly areas but many busy roads have heavy traffic and no cycling facilities for cyclists, Miasek said.
While creating a complete cycling network is the goal, inexpensive solutions are needed until a network is in place, he argued.
“We all understand benefits of cycling,” he said, in terms of health, the environment and traffic.
But he added it can be expensive to provide proper facilities and widen roads or construct multi-use pathways. “Money doesn’t grow on trees. We do need, in our view, interim cost-effective measures.”
Cycling would not be allowed on all streets, under CPAC’s recommendations, just in areas where the speed limit is 50 km/h or over.
Some asked about pedestrian and cyclist interaction if this new usage was allowed.
Councillor Valerie Burke suggested they provide cyclist education, especially about using bells to alert others on the sidewalk.
Regional Councillor Joe Li asked about liability. Elisabeth Tan, a member of CPAC, said the cyclist would be responsible in a collision between cyclist and pedestrian.
“We want to put pedestrians first,” she said. “If we want complete streets, we have to shift from moving cars to moving people. The hierarchy will be pedestrian, bicyclists, transit then cars.”