Cyclists respecting rules – Should cyclists pay? Have you witnessed a cyclist breaking the rules?
Cyclists respecting rules – I strongly support the use of bicycles to get around the city, although I rarely cycle. I also believe there is so much more we can do to expand and improve the cycling infrastructure in Montreal – as well as all over the island. We can make it more efficient and most importantly, safer. However are Cyclists respecting rules?
What is in place right now is pale in comparison to what some progressive cities have implemented, like the Netherlands (see link to video below). Regardless of some of the initiatives put in place here, cars still come first – while cyclists and pedestrians follow behind best as they can. The shortcomings have created very dangerous situations. And to add to it, many cyclists are disregarding the rules put in place to make it safe – safe for themselves and others who use the roads and even sidewalks. It has resulted in accidents, injuries and even death.
Just before I sat down to write this article I came across another disturbing headline in the news; ‘Montreal Cyclist Seriously Injured after Running a Red Light’. A 26-year-old cyclist was hit by a car after speeding through a red light at the intersection of Berri and St-Antoine streets. Last heard the cyclist was taken to the hospital for a head injury, but it was not believed to be life-threatening.
On average, 650 cyclists and 1200 pedestrians a year in Montreal are taken by ambulance to hospitals – and the numbers are growing. The city introduced a few initiatives to make the roads safer, but they are like Band-Aids on a far more serious problem. Experts say the main problem lies in the infrastructure already in place in Montreal – roads that were built without any forward thinking and are still being built that way.
To change all that would not only take time but require well-thought out, educated planning – and a serious commitment. But it can be done. In the meantime, there is a way to make the streets safer and it involves cyclists themselves – cyclists who understand and obey the rules of the road they are obliged to follow.
Many people might not even be aware the rules exist. Did you know cyclists can get demerit points for an infraction, even without having a driver’s license? Or that not respecting any of the rules of the Highway Safety Code (HSC) constitutes a violation and subject to penalties and fees?
Here are some of the rules listed on the SPVM (Service de police de la Ville de Montréal) website’s page ‘Traffic Rules for Cyclists’ (with applicable fines and demerits):
RED LIGHTS – Unless otherwise indicated, when approaching a red light, cyclists must stop before the pedestrian crossing or the stop line; if there is none, they must stop in front of the lateral line on the road at the intersection. $15 / 3 demerit points
OBLIGATORY STOP – A bicycle rider approaching a STOP sign must stop and yield passage to any vehicle that is either turning into the intersection or close enough to present danger of collision. $15 / 3 demerit points
YIELDING THE RIGHT OF WAY – A bicycle rider turning in an intersection must yield passage to other pedestrians and cyclists. $15 / 2 demerit points
There is more information and other rules listed concerning: ‘Riding with the flow of traffic and on the far right-hand side’, ‘Portable music device or earphones’, ‘Riding on the sidewalk’, ‘Riding between two lanes of vehicles’ and ‘Riding in single file’ plus more. *See link below to the website.
Cyclists are up against a lot. They are not the enemy. Our wheeled friends are already adding to a quality of life benefitting all Montrealers – they are keeping cars off the road and helping to keep the air clean. And they are getting great exercise doing so.
Not only do they have traffic to contend with, but car doors opening in their paths, roads and bike paths in bad need of repair, dangerous underpasses, detours leading them all over the place and even on to sidewalks. And who cannot feel compassion for a cyclist having to stop at a red light when it is raining?
But in the meantime, the bottom line is cyclists need to ‘step up to the plate’ and unfortunately, many are not. Cyclists have it in their power to make things better and as safe as possible for now, by diligently following the rules put in place to do exactly that.
Are you a responsible cyclist? Have you witnessed a cyclist breaking the rules? Have you as a pedestrian or driver ever been injured by a cyclist? And… should cycling rules be better enforced? Please let us know online or at firstname.lastname@example.org
SPVM ‘Traffic Rules for Cyclists’: https://www.spvm.qc.ca/en/Fiches/Details/Traffic-Rules-for-Cyclists
Netherland’s Biking Paths VIDEO: https://vimeo.com/222250156