Ottawa sidewalk cyclists face fines

Cyclists who zip down Ottawa sidewalks, dodging pedestrians, could face tickets and fines.

Cyclists who zip down Ottawa sidewalks, dodging pedestrians, could face tickets and fines.

Ottawa police launched a two-day cycling blitz Thursday in the Uppertown neighbourhood aimed at teaching cyclists about the rules of the road and enforcing those rules — including a ban on sidewalk riding.

Sgt. Jean Lamothe said Ottawa police have been receiving lots of calls from pedestrians complaining about the danger they face from bikes on sidewalks, and he believes that's the biggest problem when it comes to cyclists disobeying road rules.

"They don't understand that their bicycle is a vehicle and a vehicle is designed to ride on the roadway," he said.

In fact, he said, many cyclists, including most under age 16, don't know the rules of the road as governed by the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and the Ottawa Traffic and Parking bylaw.

They require that cyclists have lights, a bell or horn, and follow most of the same rules that apply to cars.

When asked if tickets will be handed out for infractions during the blitz, Lamothe said, "Definitely."

Ottawa police said cycling on the sidewalk, banned under the Ottawa traffic bylaw, is punishable by a $40 fine. Police have some discretion when applying the fines, however, and won't be fining young children, said Lamothe.

'The traffic's just too dangerous'

Cyclist David Guiguere said he does notice a lot of cyclists breaking the rules

"We have to be a hell of a lot more considerate and careful," said Guiguere, who describes himself as "a cyclist who doesn't wear spandex and go a million miles an hour like some of them do."

But he said there's a reason bikes end up on sidewalks.

"The traffic's just too dangerous," he said. "What this all points towards is that we need not just dedicated bike lanes, but physically separated bike paths in high traffic areas."

Lamothe said police are dealing with dangerous traffic by educating drivers and not just cyclists about the rules. But he said cyclists need to do their part.

"We only have so much roadway," Lamothe said, "so you have to learn to share the roadway."

Six police officers on bicycles will take part in the blitz, with support from other units.

Bicycle regulations under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act

  • HTA 144/136 - Traffic signals and signs
    • Stop for red lights and stop signs and comply with all other signs. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 153 - One-ways streets
    • Ride in the designated direction on one-way streets. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 147 - Slow moving traffic travel on right side
    • Any vehicle moving slower than the normal traffic speed should drive in the right-hand lane, or as close as practicable to the right edge of the road except when preparing to turn left or when passing another vehicle. For cyclists, you must ride far enough out from the curb to maintain a straight line, clear of sewer grates, debris, potholes, and parked car doors. You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it. Never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist behind you. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 142 - Signalling a turn
    • Before turning, look behind you and signal your turn. Cyclists can use their right arm to signal a right turn. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 140(1) 144(29) - Crosswalks
    • Yield or stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 140(6)/144(29) - No riding in crosswalks
    • Walk your bike when crossing at a crosswalk. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 166 - Streetcars
    • Stop two metres behind streetcar doors and wait until passengers have boarded or departed and reached the curb. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 175 (12) - Stopped school buses
    • Stop for stopped school buses when the upper alternating red lights are flashing and the stop arm is out. Set fine: $400.00
  • HTA 62(17) - Lights
    • A bike must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector if you ride between 1/2 hour before sunset and 1/2 hour after sunrise and white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on rear forks. Set fine: $20.00
  • HTA 75 (5) - Bell
    • A bike must have a bell or horn in good working order. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 64(3) - Brakes
    • A bike must have at least one brake system on the rear wheel. When you put on the brakes, you should be able to skid on dry, level pavement. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 218 - Identification
    • Cyclists must stop and identify themselves when required to stop by police for breaking traffic laws. The police officer will ask you for your correct name and address. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA Reg. 630 - Expressways
    • Bicycles are prohibited on expressway / freeway highways such as the 400 series, the QEW, Ottawa Queensway and on roads where "No Bicycle" signs are posted. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 178(2) - Passengers
    • Passengers are not allowed on a bicycle designed for one person. Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 178(1) - Attaching to a vehicle
    • You are not permitted to attach yourself to the outside of another vehicle or streetcar for the purpose of "hitching a ride." Set fine: $85.00
  • HTA 104 - Helmets
    • Every cyclist under the age of eighteen must wear an approved bicycle helmet. Parents or guardians shall not knowingly permit cyclists under sixteen to ride without a helmet. Set fine: $60.00
  • HTA 179 - Dismounted bicyclist
    • Cyclists are required to ride on the right-hand side of the road. If you are walking your bike on a highway where there are no sidewalks, you are considered a pedestrian and you should walk on the left-hand side of the road facing traffic. If it is not safe for you to cross the road to face traffic, you may walk your bike on the right-hand side of the road. Set fine: $35.00

Source: Ontario Ministry of Transportation