toronto cyclists

Should cyclists have to ride single-file in Toronto?

A year-old bylaw still working its way through city hall could force all cyclists in Toronto to ride single-file under threat of a $60 fine if a motion by councillor Karen Stintz fails to win approval at council next week.

The bylaw originates in Etobicoke, where pre-amalgamation cyclists were fined $85 for riding side-by-side or in clusters. As part of on-going efforts to consolidate bylaws across the City of Toronto, the law was tweaked and enacted on Dec. 1 2011 by city council.

Though the rules have technically been in place for more than a year, the city has yet to decide when police will start actively handing out tickets to rule-breaking cyclists.

A similar bylaw existed in the days of Metro Toronto when the fine was $3.75 for riding in groups on arterial roads. Current road rules already require cyclists to move right and drivers left "so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision."

"Effectively what that law does is prohibit group riding," says Jared Kolb from Cycle Toronto. "That has implications for road riders who are out on Lake Shore, for instance. It has implications for families on side-streets, friends out on Bloor. It's got implications right across the board."

"It's a regressive bylaw and it's something we're keen to see taken off the books."

Kolb says he's heard from cycling groups who have been spoken to by police for riding together.

According to the official language the fine "will become enforceable the first Thursday following 45 days after set fine approval," though the city says there is actually no set timetable. If Stintz's motion is successful the bylaw will be immediately repealed once the city starts issuing fines.

What do you think of this bylaw - does the city need extra rules to force cyclists to ride in a straight line or do the existing rules already make it clear how bikers are expected to behave? Will new laws discourage new cyclists?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: "The Commute Home" by happy d/blogTO Flickr pool.


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