Cycling etiquette – what are the rules of the road?

I support cycling. I celebrate that more and more Leasiders choose cycling as their primary mode of transportation, rather than clogging the roads with yet more cars. I’m encouraged that the City has been supportive of bicycle use, extending bike lanes for safer riding.

At the same time, I’m receiving an increasing number of complaints about unsafe bike practices. As chair of the LRA’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, I hear from you about both automotive and cycling matters, and about the lack of enforcement and effective penalties.

There is a lot of confusion as to whether “the rules of the road” apply to cyclists. Bikes are officially classified as vehicles, but many cyclists fail to stop at stop signs or – all too often – even at traffic lights. Many cyclists ride on sidewalks, even on quiet streets where there is no automotive threat. The number of sidewalk cyclists seems to have increased greatly since the start of the pandemic.

Road safety depends on the predictability of traffic behaviour and a certain degree of obedience to the rules: a red light means stop; a no-right-turn sign means turning is forbidden; one-way streets mean just that. Theoretically, this should apply to cyclists as well as drivers. However, I think we all have experienced some near misses as pedestrians: being overtaken from behind by a swift but silent sidewalk cyclist; while walking along Bayview; or even at the end of one’s own driveway. We have all occasionally been surprised by a cyclist speeding out from a side street without warning.

How can this situation can be improved? Is there a way to provide greater clarity and effective enforcement of the rules of the road? Your suggestions are welcome.

Cyclists are providing a public service by not driving cars. This city needs more defined bike lanes (not sidewalks, which are for pedestrians) to protect the safety of the cyclist, who is no match for a heavy car or truck. 

But it would be a great pity if complaints about the cycling behaviour of some were to increase the likelihood of a public backlash against cycling.

The Leaside Residents Association hopes we will soon be able to hold in-person monthly board meetings again, but we can at least offer accessibility to our meetings via Zoom. If you wish to be a deputant or part of a deputation to the LRA’s next online meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Aug. 5th, or just to attend virtually, please contact us by that date at lpoa.ca and we will supply you with the information to link to it.

About Carol Burtin Fripp 93 Articles
Carol Burtin Fripp is Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, and is Chair of the LRA's Traffic Committee. Over the years, she has served on numerous East York and City task forces. Now a retired television producer (TVO and CBC), she writes Leaside Life's monthly LRA column, and has created a daily international current affairs newsletter read from Newfoundland to New Zealand.