Sensible bike lanes would keep cyclists off sidewalks, advocate says
'We want motorists to realize we're there, we have a right to be there'
A cyclist group says better infrastructure and more education are needed to keep cyclists off sidewalks in Fredericton.
Earlier this week, Fredericton police started enforcing laws that say cyclists have to wear helmets and cannot pedal their bikes along sidewalks.
The offences carry fines of $29.70 and $50 respectively.
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"To see that some of us are being unfairly targeted while out on the roads … there's still more work to do," said Chris Foster, executive director of Velo NB, an organization that works to improve cycling across the province.
"We want motorists to realize we're there. We have a right to be there."
He said the city needs more cycling lanes that are properly maintained and an access route throughout the city for cyclists to use, keeping them away from busy intersections.
There's so many cyclists that operate in some kind of zone between pedestrian and the motor vehicle rules and some serve the rules fully.- Stephen Chase, councillor
During an interview with Information Morning Fredericton, Foster applauded Saint John, which has worked with cycling groups in the area to increase the use of cycling lanes.
Right now, Foster said, there are bike lanes in Fredericton that are marked out on the side of the road but end before cyclists can even reach an intersection. He cited the example of riding down down York Street and finding the bike lane ended before it got to Dundonald Street.
"I believe if properly implemented, [bike lanes] can be a good thing," he said.
Safety a concern
Although Foster said the cyclist community has gained a lot of respect from motorists, cyclists still don't feel safe on city roads.
"There's still some people that feel we don't deserve to be on there and it's disheartening," he said. "We're all riding to enjoy it as a recreational way to stay healthy, stay active, have fun."
Before the stepped-up enforcement campaign, officers distributed an informational brochure titled Cycling in Fredericton, developed this summer to help raise awareness of the importance of sharing the road.
Police also gave warnings to anyone breaking the rules.
Despite the notice, Foster said police failed to provide enough time in getting the word out before "the crackdown," adding his group could have provided more insight into the situation.
"If they're looking to make a crackdown we could've helped them … let people know more," he said.
Education part of solution
When it comes to cycling on the roads, Coun. Stephen Chase, chair of the city's public safety committee, said people first need to fully observe the rules of the road.
Chase said the city provides public education materials and has been studying active transportation.
"What's really important is for the cyclists and the motorists to read and observe that material," he said.
Next, Chase said active transportation infrastructure would help cyclists while out on the roads. He said more steps will likely be taken towards public consultation in promoting active transportation.
He went on to say that he understands why people don't feel safe cycling on the streets with drivers "speeding and texting."
"I totally get why people might choose to ride their bike on the sidewalk," he said.
"But there's so many cyclists that operate in some kind of zone between pedestrian and the motor vehicle rules and some serve the rules fully."
With files from Information Morning Fredericton