A proposed revamping of Saskatoon’s cycling rules includes allowing cyclists 14 and under to ride on sidewalks.
The city’s current bylaw doesn’t give a maximum age for riding on the sidewalk because no person under 12 can be convicted of an offence under any act, regulation or bylaw, according to the city.
At 14, children are “on the cusp of receiving driver’s learner permits” and “should be confident and capable to ride on the street,” according to a City of Saskatoon document obtained by Global News.
The project report includes a draft version of a bicycle bylaw designed to replace the city’s current bylaw. The document was sent to community stakeholders for feedback and is open to revisions.
The proposed bylaw states cyclists “shall not ride on a sidewalk unless permitted by signs or markings.”
The sidewalk versus street issue is one of numerous topics covered in the roughly 130-page document.
Any violation of the proposed bylaw would result in a $50 fine.
If enacted, the bylaw would also require drivers to leave a one-metre buffer between passing vehicles and cyclists. The buffer would apply to two-way, single-lane streets.
The Traffic Safety Act doesn’t include a buffer zone, only stating vehicles should pass when it is safe to do so.
The proposal also drops language currently in the bylaw, which tells cyclists to stay as close to the curb as possible.
“Best practice is for cyclists is to ride in the middle of the right-hand lane to emphasise [sic] their presence in the road to drivers behind, or to stop them overtaking where it is not safe,” the project report reads.
Riding too close to the curb, according to the city’s document, is unsafe because of the gutter and “door zone” of parked cars.
The new bylaw would also formalize required hand signals for turns, stops and slowing down.
Currently, seven provinces have legislation requiring helmets for some or all bike riders. Saskatchewan doesn’t, though municipalities like Yorkton and Moose Jaw have helmet bylaws.
Saskatoon city staff will recommend helmet use, but the bylaw doesn’t include mandatory helmet provisions.
“Notwithstanding regulation, opponents to helmet regulation cite that the expense of helmets is a barrier to increasing cycling mode share and that motorists take greater risks when approaching cyclist wearing helmets,” the report said.
The report, including the draft bylaw, will go before Saskatoon’s active transportation advisory group on Sept. 26. Any bylaw changes would require approval from Saskatoon city council.
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