Bike Lanes, Sidewalks and Guelph City Streets

A resident’s concerns.

I am writing you about concerns over the use of Bike Lanes within the city of Guelph, as I feel that road accidents are imminent.

I moved to Guelph in 1967, and attended schools in Guelph. Throughout that time Police Safety Officers taught the rules of the road: 1. bikes were vehicles and needed to follow the rules of the road, signalling, and travelling with traffic.
2. sidewalks were for walking; and anytime a cyclist was on a sidewalk or pedestrian crossing,
that they should dismount to cross the street. We skipped, rode trikes, etc. but we knew to look
both ways for traffic before crossing the street.
3. cars were expected to check for pedestrians, and to give bikes a full lane when passing.

I don’t believe that these rules have changed. As a cyclist and a pedestrian, I did not find these rules hard to follow. I happily road all over Guelph, and turned in the turn lanes with the cars, obeying the traffic lights, etc. When shopping downtown, I walked my bike amongst the pedestrians when travelling on the sidewalks, and road on the road with traffic.

What I witness now, including today, with the advent of bike lanes, has left me alarmed and concerned. More than once, I have been left with my heart in my throat over some close call. The bike lanes are now used for everything in both directions. Runners often spill over the bike lanes running up Gordon Street facing traffic, ignoring the empty sidewalk beside them. This morning’s encounter was a runner on the road facing traffic and ignoring the cleared sidewalk beside them. Most alarming are the cyclists on the sidewalks, on the wrong side of the road, that ride out at high speed over cross walks against the lights, at busy intersections like Gordon and Stone. Often drivers cannot see them, due to other traffic lanes filled with Buses and Trucks, and near collisions are only closely averted. The north and south ends of the city are notorious for the use of bike lanes, and the lack of use of existing adjacent sidewalks, by bikes, strollers, runners, and walkers, often facing traffic, in a lane intended for bikes travelling with traffic. I have even spoken with Police Officers within our schools that have noticed cyclists riding fast down sidewalks on the wrong side of the road on neighbourhood streets like Kortright; they are at risk of being hit by people backing in and out of their driveways as the cyclists appear out of nowhere, in unexpected places.

If the city of Guelph feels so strongly about bike lanes, why is it with their progressive implementation, has their use become more likely that there is an accident than before bike lanes existed. With the continued expansion of Guelph, we have a lot of new residents, immigrants, and University Students. Please implement some sort of program on the appropriate and safe use of bike lanes, along with a revision of basic road saftey rules, so we don’t have to live in fear of an accident with erratic users of bike lanes and sidewalks throughout the city of Guelph.   Staff

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