A push for changes to the town bylaw regulating bicycles on sidewalks fell short of what Councillor Morgan Nagel had hoped.
Nagel sought a bylaw amendment that would allow cyclists to use sidewalks when no bike lanes available, providing they are equipped with a bell/horn. He was hoping to have it in place this summer. Instead, its feasibility will be considered when drafting a new multi-modal traffic bylaw.
"This is really making something that's already happening a little bit safer because people are already on the sidewalk," Nagal argued. "What it does is message people that if you're going to be on the sidewalk, you're going to have to have a bell to be on there."
In recent years, the town has established shared and designated bike lanes on several of the town's major arteries, but not all of them. Nagel believes riding on the sidewalk in some situations is safer.
He pointed to hot spots, like Griffin Rd. and bridge crossings.
The town successfully applied for a $50,000 federal active transportation grant that will allow the town to study its micro-mobility traffic restrictions and perimeters and submit recommendations to town council by the second quarter of 2024.
Stacey Loe, executive director for protective and community services, says the town doesn't normally receive complaints when people use sidewalks when it's unsafe to travel on the roads, nor does it enforce it. Implementing such a change in short order, even as a pilot project, was viewed as a premature measure that may confuse both users and bylaw enforcement officers.
"What I would suggest is that this type of consideration would be reviewed as part of the process in consideration of the bigger picture and other potential implications," Loe advised council.
Believing his motion was destined to fail, he agreed to have it considered as part of that review and for it to be brought back to council for consideration no later than June 2024.
"And I intend to continue riding illegally across the bridge on the sidewalk," concluded Nagel.
The current bylaw prohibits those over the age of 12 from riding bicycles on sidewalks. Those 12 and under are expected to do so in a safe and courteous manner and must yield the right-of-way to pedestrian traffic at all times.
It also states: “Persons under the age of 12 years who operate a bicycle on any sidewalk shall do so under the supervision and control of a parent or guardian.”
The use of a bicycle on the town's extensive trail system is A-OK, providing it is equipped with a warning device (bell/horn). They are not to exceed a speed of 20 kph, be ridden in single file in a courteous manner, give the right away to pedestrians, and must provide plenty of audible warning when passing pedestrians.