May 1, 2016 kimkelln

Except They’re Riding Their Bikes on the Sidewalk

Now that summer is upon us, for the most part, and gauged solely by the weather and not the calendar, I’m seeing a lot more bicycle commuters out there. One of the things that I’ve noticed now that there’s more cyclists on the streets is that there’s also way more people riding on the sidewalk Sure, I understand, as Sean Carter at BikeBike, and others have pointed out, that they have to do this because of the lack of safe and efficient cycling infrastructure. Never-the-less, whenever I see someone on the sidewalk I’m always reminded of the very first interview, and filming that we ever did for the movie.

Way back when, at Tom Babin’s FrostBike book launch at Shelf Life Books, René Potvin dropped in while we were setting up. At the time, René was a recent transplant from Montreal. He started talking to us about the differences in cycling between his home town and Calgary. This is some of the more interesting things that René had to say about bicycle commuting, Montreal, and Calgary, including riding on the sidewalk…

Like I said, whenever I see someone on the sidewalk, I always think about that very first interview we did.

Still, it concerns me that riding on the sidewalk seems to be something that people don’t give a second thought to. In my opinion, the issue is multi-faceted and complicated, and I don’t think that lack of infrastructure is the sole reason for people doing this. Since I’ve seen really aggressive riders on the sidewalks, I think some of it may just be bad habits that were acquired in childhood. Because we haven’t provided a safe place for children to ride, it’s just assumed that sidewalks are where bicycles are supposed to be. Compounding the issue is the fact that many people are only recreational cyclists and haven’t thought about what skills may be necessary to ride in the city. Maybe we need to provide both safe infrastructure and more urban cycling skills programs through the schools. Just my 10…

The other thing that I noticed now that the fair-weather riders are out and about is that my favourite on-street bike racks are full up. At this time of year, I sometimes qualify fair-weather cyclist with something like #)$Q)(*%. It’s good to see so many people on bikes now, but I’m sad to see my favourite winter parking spot disappear. I spend the time to send in a 311 request for more and better bike lockups around where I’m working these days. I’ve had a “we’ll look into it” response, so we’ll see how that goes. On the other hand, the slight dip in the weather to more seasonal values last week meant that all those parking spaces were freed up again as the fair-weather’s parked their bikes until it all passes over.

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Comment (1)

  1. renepotvin

    Fun to see this video a year later. Since that time, exceptions were made in Montreal in regards to riding bikes on sidewalks. Mostly these exceptions concern dangerous roads, over and underpasses, where fatal accidents occured in the past.

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