Cycle Disobedience

bike hopping

Albert Howell has a great article in the Globe and Mail highlighting issues surrounding the role of local goverment to supply cycle-safe infrastructure vs. civil disobedience in the form of law-bending cyclists. Interspersed in the article are cheerful notes to pedestrians and drivers like:

Drivers, when a cyclist is eyeballing you it’s not an insult or a challenge, we’re simply watching you to see what you’re going to do. If you make a mistake in traffic it’s an expense; if a cyclist makes one, it’s a lot of pain and possibly death. And pedestrians, when a cyclist rings a bell, we’re not giving you attitude we’re just letting you know we’re there.

For a different perspective on how cities and cyclists can work check out the inspirational video from Copenhagan called City of Cyclists.


  1. I get flak for riding my bicycle on sidewalks, but here’s the issue:

    I live in the suburbs. Over the last few decades, pedestrians have largely abandoned the sidewalks and taken almost excluively to driving. The sidewalks are emptier than ever, while the roads are busier than ever.

    The sidewalks around here are so empty that you can go for kilometres without seeing a single pedestrian. So, I see what is clearly a void, and I’m filling it. I’d rather ride on an empty sidewalk than deal with ragey drivers who drive to close to the side of the road.

    If I see someone walking on the sidewalk, I bump off onto the road.

    What’s the big deal?

  2. You’re probably doing the right thing. I think a lot of suburban areas have a big grassy patch between the sidewalk and road. Many of those strips could be converted to a bike lane.

    Its the debate over do you build it first, or wait until there is a demand? I think I go with the former, cuz the latter is probably there, just waiting to be unleashed.

  3. I’m just wondering why some cyclists prefer not to follow the rules of the road. I would think if you were riding your bike on the road with motorists that you should follow the same rules. But some don’t. So is it different for drivers and cyclists? Or do some cyclists think that the rules of road don’t apply to them?

  4. I am in waterloo/ontario, similar to most suburban areas around gta.Even though it is tempting to ride on the sidewalk (esp. the ‘zone of death’ as i call it the highway interchange)I never do.

    The problem is once you get on to the sidewalk you then have to make and even more extremely dangeourous move = merging back on to the road.

    I guess more politicians need to bike or something to get bike lanes made its a catch 22 in some ways why make bike lanes if nobody is biking and nobody will bike if there are no bike lanes.This mostly applies to people who bike daily or as their main mode of transportation joe average will probly think they are safer on the sidewalk and I usually see these type of riders on a sidewalk next to a bike lane.

  5. ‘cyclists prefer not to follow the rules of the road’. Priority numero uno for bikers is dont get killed, if I have to ‘bend’ the rules to survive then I will.

    The ‘rules’ of the road were designed with cars in mind this couldnt be more clear than simply biking anywhere in N.america.Because of the bias in creating the ‘rules of the road’ the answer is NO bikers and cars do not have the same rules imo. There are common norms and expectations to be adhered to on the road by all users but to think that me on my bike is the same as a car is incredibly flawed logic and causes many of the problems.

    I bike and also drive and I am sure I break the ‘rules’ in my car alot more than I ever do on the bike.

  6. I think the beef is with the group of cyclists who break rules and endanger themselves as well as putting drivers on the spot; some do, and without apology. They don’t signal, or swerve across the road to make a last-minute lane change, etc. — just like some drivers. Cyclists are at a disadvantage in terms of size and speed, but that’s no reason to put everyone’s lives at risk. On the whole, as I’ve observed, cyclists tend to ride safely as they possibly can.

    I honestly have no problem with cyclists (or motorized wheelchairs, which are faster and frankly seem to have a greater chance of carrying a rude individual) on a sidewalk as long as they’re not monopolizing it or acting aggressively towards pedestrians.

    I don’t see any problem with sharing space as long as everyone is using it safely and courteously.

  7. Regarding bicycles on sidewalks… Until it’s been officially declared as a thouroughfare where bicycles are allowed to travel, bicycles must stay on the vehicular part of the roadway. There is the rule of law. There is also the rule of vehicular traffic on a pedestrian right of way. If bicyclists imagine that cars should stay out of bicycle lanes, then sure as merde bicycles should stay out of the pedestrian lane.

    And most importantly bicyclists should not think that they’re beating traffic by using the sidewalk that runs counter to oncoming traffic. Drivers looking to make a right only anticipate pedestrian traffic from the right as they’re looking for an opening in the flow from the left.

    If the bicyclist from the right sails into the intersection from the sidewalk, and encounters a rightward turning vehicle there will be a big boo hoo but the bicyclist had no business being there, unless he was walking across the intersection.

    This is basic survival stategy akin to red lights, but then maybe there’s a new empowerment factor that trumps survival. AKA the Darwin Project.



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