Bicycle Licensing – Same Tired Argument
By Natalie Alcoba
Cyclists should be licensed in order to ensure they know the rules of the road, a Toronto councillor is arguing.
“You have to know that people on our roadways know what the rules of the roadway are — that’s all that this is about — and that they can be identified,” said Councillor David Shiner, who represents Willowdale.
He wants staff to report on a licensing regime for cyclists.
Mr. Shiner believes licenses should apply to those who use the Bixi bike share, and could start at a certain age, so that children who are learning to cycle are not affected.
Councillor Mike Layton, an avid cyclist, said the issue has already been studied and staff concluded that it would be “cost prohibitive.”
The public works and infrastructure committee referred the matter to a June meeting. It is also contemplating how the city might update the seven disparate bylaws that currently impose fines ranging from $3.75 to $85 for riding a bike on a sidewalk, depending on the area.
Karen Okamoto, whose 74-year-old father died after being struck by a cyclist on a Finch Avenue sidewalk, believes more bike lanes in the suburbs could dissuade people from riding on the sidewalk.
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My say; Councilor Shiner is not a man easily dismissed. He speaks compellingly and with conviction, but he isn’t always right. No question that some cyclists are a hazard to themselves and others, but laws already exist – rarely enforced – that compel cyclists to obey the rules and provide appropriate penalties when they don’t. I don’t imagine for a moment that slapping a license on the back of a courier’s bike is going to do anything to alter their often questionable choices when it comes to riding in traffic. I can’t believe that a license will stop riders from sailing through stop signs or making inappropriate left turns at intersections or use hand signals to indicate their intentions. Education and enforcement of existing laws is the only way to curb dangerous behavior. It’s been tried before and failed with good reason. Will Councilor Shiner’s next target be skate boarders, double-wide baby strollers and E-Bikes? – Ed
More background information
The City of Toronto has investigated licensing cyclists on at least three occasions in the recent past:
- 1984: focus on bike theft
- 1992: focus on riding on sidewalks, traffic law compliance and couriers
- 1996: focus on riding on sidewalks, traffic law compliance and couriers
Licensing in the nineties has been most often discussed in response to concerns for pedestrian safety on sidewalks, where incidents of collisions, near misses, and a lack of courtesy have made many pedestrians, including seniors feel insecure.
Each time the City has rejected licensing as a solution to the problem under discussion.
The major reasons why licensing has been rejected are:
- The difficulty in keeping a database complete and current
- The difficulty in licensing children, given that they ride bikes too
- Licensing in and of itself does not change the behaviour of cyclists who are disobeying traffic laws.”
Posted on January 6, 2012, in Cycling, Opinion, Our Neighbourhood and tagged bicycle license, bicycle licensing, Councilor David Shiner, cycling in Toronto, david shiner ed horner, Natalie Alcoba, national post, toronto by-laws. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.