Bikes on sidewalks one Sarnia suggestion for province

Cycling is gaining in popularity, but the province is also trying to make it safer.

Cycling is gaining in popularity, but the province is also trying to make it safer.

The province should consider allowing bicycles on sidewalks, make side guards mandatory on all large transports and make drivers give cyclist one meter space when passing.

Those are just a few of the suggestion from Sarnia going to the province as it updates its cycling strategy. Ontario officials announced the review after the province’s chief coroner called for tougher rules and more education to prevent the rising number of cycling deaths.

The province has already talked about providing bicycle purchasers with safety information, using the Driver Handbook to highlight cycling rules and updating the Highway Traffic Act to improve cycling safety.

The Bluewater Trails group, which has been active in promoting cycling and safe cycling routes, likes what it sees but says more changes could be made.

In a letter to the province, the group says it should develop a complete streets policy which reduces speed limits, creates community safety zones in residential and school areas and would be the template for all redesigned and new streets.

Bluewater Trails also wants the province to provide grants to improve cycling infrastructure, including paving roads. And it says the province should pass a law which forces drivers to give cyclist a minimum of one meter space when passing.

Councilor Terry Burrell supports the ideas but has one of his own. “We (should) ask the Ministry of Transportation to look at the issue of what criteria would be needed to allow bicycles on the sidewalks.” Burrell has long maintained that would improve bike safety.

And City/County Councilor Bev MacDougall wants the province to make sure the public education portion of the strategy isn’t aimed at just children. “Some people are a menace on the roads,” she says. “We should send some sort of correspondence to the Cycling Strategy to make sure people beyond elementary and secondary education are education and that cycling safety be in the driver handbooks.”

MacDougall adds this would be the right time to consider whether bicycles should be licenced.