Rose: Cycling ‘is not an efficient way to travel’ – time to bring back sanity to Ottawa streets

Aug 7, 2018
“The number of people choosing to cycle to work, to school, for errands and for recreation continues to grow every year in Ottawa, across the city.” This is the first line on a city of Ottawa webpage about cycling. The city likes to boast about spending millions of dollars to build segregated bicycle lanes while at the same time eliminating car lanes and parking spaces. That appears to encourage cycling. Of course it would.

On the other hand, the city should also pursue other requirements for cyclists, that car users must deal with:

• Cyclists must be licensed;

• Cyclists must have insurance;

• Cyclists must have a licence plate;

• Cyclists must not be allowed to ride on sidewalks, pedestrian overpasses, or the Sparks Street mall. to name a few;

• Cyclists must not be allowed to break numerous laws, including running red lights, running stop signs, excessive speed on shared pathways; and riding the wrong way on one-way streets, to name a few;

• Cyclists must be required to have all necessary safety equipment; and

• Cyclists must be treated the same as car users in all forms of enforcement.

If you applied all these requirements to cyclists, I can guarantee you that there would not be such growth with cycling in this city. In a commentary in The Citizen back in 2016, arguing against bike licences, you can read this: “Perhaps the most important argument against bicycle licensing is that it is likely to decrease cycling.”

Currently, the city is encouraging cyclists to ride on the sidewalks. There are projects where sidewalks have been converted into so-called “shared pathways.” A line is painted in the middle of the sidewalk and voilà, bicycles can ride on them. Needless to say, there is no speed limit. Let us not forget the added hazards of the skateboarders, roller blades riders, electric wheelchairs, and riders using cellphones.

Cycling is a good recreational activity. However, as a mode of transportation, it is barely adequate at best. If done according to the law, it is not an efficient way to travel.

It is time to rethink city planning or make cyclists as responsible as car drivers. It would be interesting to see actual logs with dates and times of so-called enforcement of the laws of the road, as well as a record of the number of fines levied against cyclists, over the past couple of years.

If the law were applied and enforced equally between car drivers and cyclists, city hall would quickly see that segregated bicycle lanes are not worth the amount of money spent, as cyclists would just about disappear.

It is time to bring back some sanity with cycling on Ottawa city streets. Cyclists’ lives depend on it, and I suspect most drivers are sick of and frustrated with them.