Bike Post on Somerset

The City is reusing about 12% of its retireing parking meter posts as bike posts. Here is one of those rare items on Somerset Street near Rochester.

I frequently hear from the cycling fraternity that cyclists aren’t supposed to ride their bike across a street using the painted crosswalk. These crosswalks are for pedestrians only. This, despite numerous city cycling multipurpose paths — including brand new ones — ending right smack dab at the crosswalk, just begging the cyclist to cross here.

So, I would appreciate if someone could send me the quotation from the appropriate legislation identifying the offence.

And then I would appreciate a similar quote saying it’s right and proper to park a bicycle (surely its a vehicle under the act …)  on a sidewalk. We don’t invite cars onto sidewalks …

18 thoughts on “Bike Post on Somerset

  1. It may not be an offense to ride through a sidewalk but that doesn’t mean that it’s still not incredibly dangerous.

  2. It would be interesting to find out that it was legal to bicycle across a crosswalk. I’ve been under the presumption that it wasn’t, but I can’t find anything in the Traffic and Parking bylaws. It is at very least not clear.

    It might be worth asking the city about this.

    – A

  3. One of the wonders of cycling, in my view, is that you get to immediately transform into a ped. when its more convenient, by hopping off your bike and walking beside it. So, I guess the logic is that when you’re not riding your bike — such as walking it down a sidewalk — it’s not actually a vehicle… so its not really “parking”, I guess. Definitely more grey than black or white!

    Speaking of Somerset, I was noticing the other day that Somerset has a lot of quite nice, older trees. Any idea if they’ll be preserved in the street reconstruction, as was done in Westboro?

  4. The crosswalk offence is in the Highway Traffic Act, section 144(29):

    “No person shall ride a bicycle across a roadway within or along a crosswalk at an intersection or at a location other than an intersection which location is controlled by a traffic control signal system.”

  5. I think the concern is more about biking through crosswalks. I can think of at least one intersection where it’s pretty much a given (Experimental Farm train at Merivale), but still needlessly confusing and, not to mention, dangerous. You have to cross into the other “lane” to press the button to get the lights to start changing. (Another thought: I was sitting at an intersection the other day, watched it cycle through flashing red hand back to walk for the opposing lane, even though I was sitting on a car sensor in the road. Eventually, after a few cycles, I gave up and biked the road when it looked safe.)

    Another concern, perhaps, is what cyclists are to do when the paths become sidewalks, such as the Rideau River crossing near Lees, where the West-bound path turns into a side walk, or the Rideau Canal path near Daly, where cyclists are directed up onto the sidewalk until Daly itself (I’ve been agressively told off by cops for riding on that “sidewalk” before the lights).

    Good questions all around, and I’m interested in the answers.

  6. It is provincial in jurisdiction.

    Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER H.8
    Traffic control signals and pedestrian control signals
    section 144.
    Riding in crosswalks prohibited
    subsection (29) No person shall ride a bicycle across a roadway within or along a crosswalk at an intersection or at a location other than an intersection which location is controlled by a traffic control signal system. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (29).

  7. Parking may be legislated more at the municipal level than provincial. In the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, there is:
    (definitions s. 1)
    “park” or “parking”, when prohibited, means the standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except when standing temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading merchandise or passengers;
    “vehicle” includes a motor vehicle, trailer, traction engine, farm tractor, road-building machine, bicycle and any vehicle drawn, propelled or driven by any kind of power, including muscular power, but does not include a motorized snow vehicle or a street car;

    170. (1) No person shall park, stand or stop a vehicle on a roadway,
    (a) when it is practicable to park, stand or stop the vehicle off the roadway; or …
    (3) Subsection (1) does not apply to that portion of a roadway within a local municipality that was a township on December 31, 2002 and, but for the enactment of the Municipal Act, 2001, would have been a township on January 1, 2003 in respect of which there is a by-law prohibiting or regulating parking, standing and stopping.

    I imagine “parking on the sidewalk” laws are constructed around blocking the path more than anything else.

  8. As Julia has written, cyclists crossing a roadway within the bounds of a crosswalk is illegal. The fact that multi-use pathways lead into such crossings does not make it legal to use them but it is also *impossible* to legally cross the roadway since at a minimum one has to enter the roadway from within the crosswalk markings (short of hopping a curb). The police don’t seem to ticket cyclists for this particular infraction (multi-use path crossing), but if a cyclist is ever ticketed for crossing in a crosswalk associated with a multi-use path I think they would be in a position to sue the engineer who signed off on it, and quite possibly the City as well. Engineers should not be designing facilities for the use of cyclists – a class of vehicle operators – that are impossible to legally use as designed and built.

    On parking bicycles on sidewalks, this actually appears to be legal as far as the HTA is concerned.

    Sidewalks are part of the highway but not part of the roadway (the HTA makes a distinction between the right-of-way – the highway – and the travelled portion of the right-of-way – the roadway). The prohibition that Julia cited was on parking on the roadway and since the sidewalk is “off the roadway”, one can park there. That includes cars too! Having said that, municipalities may have by-laws on parking so the by-laws would have to be checked with respect to the language used for parking, sidewalks, and vehicles.

    Ottawa uses the Province’s definition of vehicles and parking, but has to add a definition for sidewalks since the HTA does not define them:

    “sidewalk” means those parts of a highway set aside by the City for the use of pedestrians;

    Ottawa’s Parking By-law:

    This would appear to be the relevant bit:

    13. (2) No person shall stop a vehicle or permit a vehicle to remain stopped on any highway:
    a. on or partly on or over a sidewalk;

    So parking a bicycle on the sidewalk is in contravention of the by-law (but is not “illegal” since it is not prohibited by the HTA). However, even prohibitions against parking on sidewalks may not apply to sidewalklike features like bulbouts. A bulbout could well be regarded as not being a sidewalk (is it set aside for the exclusive use of pedestrians? well, the placement of bike parking on them would tend to indicate that it isn’t…) but rather part of the highway not used for any other purpose, so bike parking there would be legal (conceptually not much different than the on-street car parking that is often found between bulbouts).

    If you lock your bike up to a sign or post on the sidewalk but your bike’s wheels are on the road, you’re probably good so long as you’re not contravening any other aspects of the parking by-law.

    1. Missed that… but right you are. For the benefit of everyone else, a “boulevard” is any part of the highway right-of-way that is not already a roadway or sidewalk or shoulder. I suppose on-street parking gets counted as shoulder.

      The City really needs to amend their parking by-law to exempt bicycles or at least spell it out where they can be parked.

      1. On-street parking is part of the roadway, since it can technically be traversed when there are no cars in it (less practical in some places, like Preston).

      2. The definition of roadway refers to “travelled” and a lot of on-street parking areas, especially in locations like Preston where it is set between bulbouts, hardly classifies as being “travelled”. It could be considered a form of boulevard where parking is allowed, or it could be shoulder. Richmond Road in Westboro, for example, actually has lines painted separating the roadway lanes from the on-street parking. That absolutely has to be a shoulder.

        I would say that if the on-street parking zone is permanent in that travel is not possible, then it cannot be considered roadway. Where on-street parking zones can also be regular traffic lanes, then it would have to be roadway.

  9. I am intrigued by Julia’s quote:

    Riding in crosswalks prohibited
    subsection (29) No person shall ride a bicycle across a roadway within or along a crosswalk at an intersection or at a location other than an intersection which location is controlled by a traffic control signal system. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (29).

    The first line seems obvious: no person shall ride a bicycle … along a crosswalk at an intersection…

    But surely the second phrase elaborates on this an offers an escape: other than an intersection controlled by a traffic signal …

    Doesn’t this mean it IS LEGAL to ride a bicycle on a crosswalk at a signalized intersection??

    1. No, because the prohibition in the first part of a crosswalk at an intersection applies. The second part elaborates on locations not at an intersection.

      However, in the case of a crosswalk NOT at an intersection AND without a traffic control signal system, it would appear that crossing within a crosswalk is legal.

      The problem with that is, well, does such a thing even exist? If it’s a crosswalk, then traffic on the roadway would have to be controlled somehow to allow pedestrians to cross and the only ways left are with yield and stop signs.

  10. Heather: you wanna bet we will be working with the consultants and city to make sure the existing trees are protected and their root space improved by the addition of structural earth. For the section from Preston to the Otrain overpass, we are getting 53 additional trees there! The section from Preston to Booth has not yet been designed but we will be equally agressive there to improve sidewalks, landscaping, and cycling.

  11. I got the following response on the parking lanes question from Ainsley Shepherd at the City of Ottawa:

    the following definitions which are outlined in the Traffic and Parking Bylaw may provide clarification.

    parking meter space – means a parking space, the use of which for parking a vehicle is controlled and regulated by a parking meter;

    parking meter zone – means that part of a highway where parking is controlled and regulated by a parking meter;

    parking space – means that part of the surface of the roadway, private property or City property designated for the purpose of vehicle parking;

    roadway – means that part of the highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic, but does not include the shoulder, and, where a highway includes two or more separate roadways, the term “roadway” refers to any one roadway separately and not to all of the roadways collectively;

    roadway, laned – means a highway which has been divided into separate lanes

    for vehicular traffic which lanes are indicated by lines or other markings on the surface of the roadway or in any other manner;

    Please contact me if you require further info. Thank you.

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