Courtesy required for cyclists and e-bikes to share the same space
Leave it to a wise owl to point out the obvious in the debate over allowing battery powered scooters to operate in bike lanes and park trails.
My Monday column was about a review of a city bylaw that prohibits e-bikes from travelling in cycling lanes or on park trails, an offence punishable by a $305 fine, even if tickets are seldom or never issued.
Riders of e-bikes have asked the city to reconsider the bylaw, noting that they don’t travel fast enough to take up an entire traffic lane, but are not officially allowed to use cycling lanes or paths such as the Martin Goodman Trail.
Cyclists object to sharing their space with e-bikes, with Councillor Mike Layton saying they are too quiet and sneak up on bike riders from behind, then brush past them.
I made the point in my column that faster moving bike riders do the same thing to their fellow pedal pushers, and that being passed by a bicycle that makes no noise is no less dangerous than an e-bike.
It prompted an email from one of my favourite readers, former Toronto city councillor Ila Bossons, an avid cyclist and community do-gooder, who says cyclists are not adept at extending courtesy to each other.
“Both Mike Layton and you forgot to speak/write about the need to RING YOUR BELL before you overtake another user of the road or bike lane,” said Bosson.
Bicycles are required by law to be equipped with a bell or horn to alert others to their presence, but Bossons isn’t sure (and neither am I) if it applies to e-bikes.
“With e-bikes being so much faster than cyclists, the ringing is not just a courtesy but essential in preventing accidents.
“The sudden appearance of an e-bike just a few inches away from a cyclist’s handlebar can be startling, and may cause a movement that entangles the two bikes.
“Cyclists themselves are very careless about bell ringing (most don’t), and e-bikers are even more silent.
“Until courtesy is promoted, learned and practiced, the two kinds of vehicles should be kept apart.”
It is impossible to legislate courtesy, especially among group that travels as righteous a path as cyclists, but Bossons is right; the problem could be solved if everyone who travels on two wheels (or four, for that matter) emphasized civility.