The city should focus on cycling infrastructure
During the pandemic, many Winnipeggers decided – to borrow a line from the legendary rock band Queen – to get on their bikes and ride.
Cycling was a way to exercise in an era when gyms were closed, a clear head activity to relieve stress, and an opportunity to commune with nature after months of being locked away at home. Winnipeg’s Open Streets pilot project, which took place in 2020 and saw the expansion of the city’s annual Sunday and statutory cycle lanes, brought even more people to ride on two wheels, big time. left because they felt safe.
Unfortunately, this bicycle boom was accompanied by an increase in tickets distributed to cyclists circulating on the sidewalk. Winnipeg Police issued 87 tickets in 2020, up from 43 in 2019. So far, police have issued 38 tickets in 2021. The fine for riding on the sidewalk is $ 113.
Instead of focusing on ticketing cyclists using sidewalks, Winnipeg could be better served by prioritizing safe and accessible cycling infrastructure, especially in areas of the city where there is none and in areas where there is none. areas where sidewalk users are disproportionately fined.
We don’t really know where to put people on bikes in this city. Cyclists are not motorists or pedestrians. And yet, in many parts of the city, if they don’t share the road with one, they share the sidewalk with the other.
Winnipeg’s cycling infrastructure has slowly improved over the past decade with the advent of off-street bike lanes as well as protected, buffered and painted street bike lanes. But this mix of infrastructure is mainly linked in a city-wide network by “informal street roads”, which are only streets considered to be of little or medium stress for cyclists.
On the Winnipeg cycling map, the caution zones are circled in red. As you might expect, a lot of them are intersections.
In many neighborhoods, especially those in the north of the city, informal street routes are largely the only cycling infrastructure that exists. This means that riding a bike in many parts of the city – especially if one is a commuter cyclist – inevitably means riding with traffic, often moving at high speed. On busy stretches where bikes are often crowded with cars or almost constant construction, the safest choice is clear.
According to Statistics Canada and data from the Vital Statistics of Canada: Death Database, 890 cyclists died in Canada between 2006 and 2017, for an average of 74 deaths per year. Seventy-three percent of these deaths were the result of a collision with a motor vehicle.
Pedestrians are also killed by motor vehicles in Canada; 332 in 2018. Pedestrians were also killed by cyclists traveling at high speed in other locations, although these incidents are significantly rarer.
The bottom line is that everyone should slow down; everyone must follow the rules of the road. Mixed-use trails are frequently shared by pedestrians and cyclists, who must show good etiquette by announcing their presence with a bell or a simple âto your leftâ. Cyclists must follow traffic rules and motorists must understand that bicycles have the right to be on the road.
The increased interest in cycling shows that there is an appetite for safe, equitable and accessible cycling infrastructure in this city. Until everyone can stay in their reserved lane, we must find a way to share without being punished.