Cycling advocates are calling for an overhaul of Saskatoon’s nearly 30-year-old bylaw for bicycles.
The bylaw hasn’t been substantially changed since it was originally passed in 1988.
Current rules require cyclists to have either a bell or horn to warn pedestrians and to stay as close to the right road curb as possible. The bylaw also imposes a blanket ban on bicycling on sidewalks within city limits.
Law student and Saskatoon Cycles member Scott Silver authored a report on the bylaw, which was presented to the transportation committee Tuesday.
“We believe that the bicycle bylaw must be reformed as part of a comprehensive approach to ensuring the safety, comfort and convenience of people traveling by bicycle in Saskatoon,” Silver wrote in the submission.
The report noted many bicycle users have models with handlebars that make it difficult to attach a horn or a bell. Silver also pointed to a lack of data indicating the devices make cycling safer.
“We were unable to find any empirical support whatsoever for the use of bike bells or horns as a safety device to protect either cyclists or pedestrians,” he wrote.
Instead, the report recommended replacing the requirement of a bell or horn with a rule that cyclists give an “audible warning” to pedestrians before passing them.
Silver notes many cyclists in other cities are already used to calling out to pedestrians and saying “on your left.”
As to the blanket ban for riding on the sidewalk, the report pointed out several areas of the city lack the infrastructure along busy roads to allow for safe cycling.
Silver suggested replacing the ban with area restrictions in heavy foot traffic corridors like downtown and Broadway, or punishments for cyclists who behave dangerously around pedestrians on sidewalks.
As a further alternative, Silver suggested an exemption for children under the age of 12 and an exemption for all bikers in the case of “hazardous conditions.”
Other recommendations included mandating a one-metre buffer between vehicles and bicycles and removing a rule forcing riders to dismount when passing a pedestrian on a bridge.
The transportation committee accepted the report as information Tuesday, and will pass it on to administration for further consideration.