Is A Bicycle A Toy Or Serious Transportation?

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Motorists get taxed and licensed and god-knows-what a million times for driving their cars.

Nothing wrong with that, just don’t give other transportation modes a free ride.

But why can’t cyclists pay their fair share if Ottawans are spending millions on bike lanes? They should  be licensed and extra-taxed to cover their infrastructure. Gas taxes go toward roads and transit. Why can’t cyclists pay for some of what they are getting? Where did cyclists get a free ride while the rest of us pay?

Cycling lobbyists respond by saying they pay their property taxes, too, so they are already covering cycling lanes. Well drivers are paying extra money through various auto taxes for the use of their vehicles. Where does it say in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that bicycle lanes are free for users?

Even the ever-present cycling lobby can’t find that clause though its members will say that was an oversight and quote three dubious sources to say that was the original plan.

If the planning department can live off development fees for its on-going costs, why can’t cyclists pay for part of their new infrastructure and have that money used for cycling law enforcement and infrastructure?

Put some police on bikes out there to end the wild west of cycling rules in Ottawa. And fine the licensed riders who break the law. There is another source of revenue. That’s what happens with drivers … break the law when the police are watching and you get a fine and demerit points on your licence.

Cyclists want respect. You get respect by paying for what you use and having an enforceable set of rules by which to live.

Cyclists have neither. And if it is expensive, so be it. It’s expensive to drive a car but people pay because they need it.

Cyclists can’t pay for what they need? Maybe they don’t need bicycles.

You want cycling to be taken seriously? Well perhaps if cyclists act like mature adults and are willing to take responsibility for the cost and enforcement of cycling and its rules, maybe Ottawans will see bicycles as more than a glorified toy.

 


Video above: Riding the O’Connor bike lanes.


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16 thoughts on “Is A Bicycle A Toy Or Serious Transportation?

  1. Cyclists riding on sidewalks and running red lights are not the majority but there are enough, particularly couriers, who should be ticketed but the public can not identify them without licencing. Riding the wrong way on one-way streets, cutting pedestrians off in crosswalks gives the majority a bad name. Bikes are vehicles under the Highway Traffic Act and should be licensed and regulated the same as cars.

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  2. Ken,
    If cyclists were forced to follow the same rules of the road as car drivers, they would most likely accumulate the maximum demerit points for breaking rules very quickly and it would only leave about 5% of them left to ride on the road…which is probably not a bad thing. I have found most cyclists atrocious at following any rules and are an ongoing menace to drivers, pedestrians and themselves. The rest of us are unfortunately having to pay for these silly useless bike lanes which are disruptive to car drivers, delivery trucks and businesses and which have not changed the mindset of the majority reckless kamikaze cyclists. I am looking forward to the day when these lanes are removed from the streets of Ottawa.

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  3. Ken,
    Toy or vehicle is a reasonable question. I do not think that anyone wants to put fees on kids riding bikes.
    How do we go about defining when the toy becomes something more?
    I suggest that an age cut off could be used.

    Once a definition is established then I can think of no reasonable reason for treating one vehicle differently from another. I can think of no reason for treating the driver of one vehicle differently from another.

    – An adult on a bike can go pretty damn fast.
    – A bike driver can be a danger just like any other vehicle driver.
    – A bike driver can be a lousy driver or a drunk driver.
    – A bike can do fairly significant damage if the bike driver slams into a pedestrian or a car or another cyclist.

    The driver should be licensed and required to pass a driver’s exam.
    Demerit points for traffic violations can then be used to deny a licensed driver the right to be on the road.
    Bike drivers should be required to have liability insurance too.

    I could not care less about a license plate on the bike. I do care that the drivers be treated like any other drivers.

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    1. Chaz:

      The insurance issue is a very important one.

      If cyclists want to be taken seriously, they must take their responsibilities, vehicle, enforcement and fees seriously.

      cheers

      kgray

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      1. Voter, it is difficult for the police to charge a driver under the Highway Traffic Act unless they have observed the transgression as it occurred. If a member of the public can only cite the licence plate and description of the vehicle that caused a disturbance, then the second most common practice, the first being to ignore the complaint, is to visit the home of the registered owner and discuss the complaint.

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      2. The Voter,
        Catch them like police catch a person running a stop sign or speeding or drunk. You catch them in the act just like you catch a car driver in the act (or a boater).

        As to a hit and run, the police would have to rely on a witness description. I witnessed a sideswipe once and called the police. They asked me for the license plate number of the car that sped off. I did not have it but I told them what I saw and described the car. The vehicle was stopped some miles away, evidence from the sideswipe was evident and the driver was charged.
        skoal,
        Chaz

        I don’t think that all it takes to avoid a traffic act charge is to the remove one’s license plate.

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  4. Germany has a good solution where the school curriculum in grade 4 includes police officers going to schools to teach and test 8-9 year olds on cycling. They learn traffic rules, get tested on them, and earn an official “bicycle license”.

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  5. Why stop at bikes? The city builds sidewalks for pedestrians. Sidewalks get in the way of cars which would have so much more room without them. And they’re not free to build either. Pedestrians jaywalk. They cross against the lights, which car drivers never do. So license pedestrians too.

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    1. merrill,
      I’m not into licensing a pedestrian but I sure would charge the ones that walk off the sidewalk half-way down the block and straight into the street. Yes, the ones that cross on a red deserve a ticket or two, too.
      skoal,
      Chaz

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  6. Licensing will also give the bike user a sense of the responsibility involved in being on the road. That it is not just a frivolous activity one can do from time to time. So yes I approve licensing.

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  7. Ken,
    Most issues have already been well covered by other readers just a few points from here.

    Licence bicycles, even children…I had to pay for one in this City when I was young and at that time my allowance was 25 cents a week, if I did all of my household chores…how did I pay…I saved! A great lesson to be learned by all.

    The City, in conjunction with the O.P.S., used to operate weekend classes that were encouraged. They taught the rules of the road, general safety, and how to signal!!! When is the last time you saw a cyclist signal their turn or stop??? For myself, it is an extreme rarity.

    Car driver’s pay taxes, as do pedestrians and older cyclists however, as you pointed out, car owner’s also pay multiple extra fee’s including their driver’s licence (now $90.00 and soon to increase again), their vehicle licence which increases at least every two years, car insurance, etc., etc. Perhaps cyclist’s should have to have insurance to enable collection when your car is damaged by one of the cyclist’s who does not follow the rules of the road.

    As for ‘pedestrian’s, and sidewalk cost’…that is going over-board. Sidewalks became a safety need as automobile use increased, they are paid for out of city budgets and all tax payers contribute to that tax. Anyone riding on a sidewalk must be ticked, the same goes for cyclist’s that ride their bike across the road in pedestrian cross walk…there is a law against that…you get off and walk your bike or you ride it on the roadway.

    Just a few thoughts.
    Anne Marie

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  8. I am frankly astonished how many cyclists use sidewalks even when cycling on residential streets. It’s weird and I really wonder how this habit came about. The other morning I saw four cyclists on my commute. All were on the sidewalks.

    About licensing cyclists, I found a “bicycle licensing history” on the City of of Toronto web site – no success for Ottawa. The law was repealed in 1954 but revisited several times.

    “The major reasons why licensing has been rejected are:
    The difficulty in keeping a database complete and current
    The difficulty in licensing children, given that they ride bikes too
    Licensing in and of itself does not change the behaviour of cyclists who are disobeying traffic laws.”

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    1. PS: If it wasn’t evident, that was sarcasm. All of those motorcyclists are likely licenced and insured, on plated motorcycles, and it doesn’t do a thing to stop them from flouting the law, now, does it?

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