Time to Update the Cycling Laws in Toronto & Ontario?

Update: January 8, 2011 Toronto is Ready to Invest in the Safety of Cyclists,December 22, 2010   Toronto’s First Count of Downtown Cyclists (Sept. 2010) , November 8, 2010 Week Long Pedestrian Safety Campaign/Blitz, October 10, 2010 Bike Boxes , September 16, 2010 Private Member’s Bill requires a minimum of one metre paved shoulder be added whenever designated provincial highways are repaved to reduce accidents/fatalities , August 26, 2010 Police Lay 400 Charges Against Cyclists/Pedestrians , May 19, 2010 Motorists Must Stay 3,4 or 5 Feet Away from Bicyclists , March 29, 2010 Toronto’s Zero-Tolerance Bicycle Blitz , November 16, 2009 Most Dangerous Intersections for Pedestrians – Toronto (2008) , October 12, 2009 Idaho Stop Law , September 7, 2009 Toronto Police Bicycle Safety Blitz , March 21, 2009 Bicycle Accidents Toronto, Reported in 2008 , December 20, 2008 City of Toronto Considering Installing “Rumble Strips”

see source, Star                                                                                                                                                                              

Toronto police are calling on the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario to review the by-laws of the City and the Legislation of the Province surrounding bicycles on sidewalks, since they say the laws are decades old and need to be reviewed and updated.

The City of  Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee recommended Wednesday that council work on an enforcement strategy to get cyclists off the sidewalks, including a single fine for cyclists who venture into pedestrian territory.

A City bylaw allows cyclists with a tire size of 61cm or 24 inches or less to ride on the sidewalk. The intent of this bylaw is to allow young children to cycle on the sidewalk while they learn to ride. The bylaw is based on wheel size because it is difficult for Police to enforce age-based bylaws, as most children do not carry identification. This is a municipal bylaw and rules vary in communities across Ontario.

Effective October 3, 2009, the Province of Ontario declared that conventional style and scooter-style e-bikes that meet the definition of a power-assisted bicycle, are permitted on roads and highways where conventional bicycles are currently allowed. They must follow the same rules of the road as set out in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) that currently apply to cyclists.

E-bikes also resemble scooters and limited-speed motorcycles, like this one with small wheels.
E-bikes, like this one, may resemble conventional bicycles

Since the Province of Ontario declared that eBikes will follow the same rules and regulations as bicyles two (2) years ago, problems have emerged. Since Vespa-style electric bikes or scooters are built with smaller wheels, the outdated bylaw allows some e-bikers to legally use sidewalks. Apparently many of these eBikes have a tire size under 61 centimetres or 24 inches. This allows eBikes that weigh hundreds of pounds, which can reach 30 km/h,  to ride on the sidewalk with pedestrians and children.  The intent of this bylaw, allowing cyclists with smaller tire sizes to ride on the sidewalk, was designed for children learning to ride their bikes.

There are many hazards involved when cycling on the sidewalks. If a cyclist hits a pedestrian or a pet, the injuries can be severe. Seniors and small children are especially vulnerable and can fall merely by being startled. Anyone with a visual or hearing impairment is at increased risk.

The Toronto bylaw states that riding a bicycle with tire size over 61cm (24 inches) on sidewalks is prohibited, as is riding/operating a bicycle (or roller skates, in-line skates, skateboard, coaster, toy vehicle) on a sidewalk without due care and attention and reasonable consideration for other

The fine in downtown Toronto for not following this bylaw is $90 and aggressive cyclists can also be charged with careless driving.


Bicycles: Drivers are expected to use bike lanes or roads. Only bicycles with tires less than 61 cm in diameter are legally allowed to use the sidewalk. Cyclists have the right to take up a whole lane if it is not wide enough to share.

Electric bicycles: The province has deemed them bicycles, not motorized vehicles. Drivers are expected to follow the same rules as a cyclist.

Motorized wheelchairs: Drivers are expected to follow the same rules as pedestrians and travel at a walking pace. Drivers are not permitted to travel on roads unless the sidewalk is unsafe, due to snow or some other obstruction. If they must use the road, they are expected to keep to the side. Drivers are not permitted to use bike lanes.

Mopeds: Drivers are expected to follow the same rules as cars. Mopeds are not allowed on sidewalks or in bike lanes.

Segways: In pilot-test phase until October 2011. They are allowed on sidewalks and roads when driven by Canada Post workers, police officers and those aged 14 or older with mobility issues.

Cyclists: (NSF= $ No Set Fine) (HTA = Highway Traffic Act)

  • Permit person under 16 on power-assisted bicycle -s.38(2) – NSF
  • Improper brakes on motor-assisted bicycle – s.64(2) – $85.00 fine
  • Improper brakes on power-assisted bicycle – s.64(2) – $85.00 fine
  • Improper brakes on bicycle – s.64(3) – $85.00 fine
  • No horn – motor-assisted bicycle – s.75(5) – $85.00 fine
  • No horn – bicycle – s.75(5) – $85.00 fine
  • Defective horn – motor-assisted bicycle – s.75(5) – $85.00 fine
  • Defective horn – bicycle – s.75(5) – $85.00 fine
  • Fail to wear proper helmet on power-assisted bicycle:
    section 103.1(2) of the HTA – $85.00 fine
  • Fail to wear proper helmet on motor-assisted bicycle:
    section 104(1) of the HTA – $85.00 fine
  • Carry passenger under 16 not wearing proper helmet:
    section 104(2) of the HTA – $85.00 fine
  • Fail to wear proper helmet on bicycle – s.104(2.1) – $60.00 fine
  • Permit person under 16 not wearing proper helmet on bicycle:
    section 104(2.2) of the HTA – $60.00 fine
  • Cyclist – ride in crossover – s.140(6) – $85.00 fine
  • Improper arm signal – s.142(4) – $85.00 fine
  • Cyclist – ride in or along crosswalk – s.144(29)– $85.00 fine
  • Bicycle – fail to turn out to right when overtaken:
    section 148(6) of the HTA – $85.00 fine
  • Bicyle – fail to turn out to right when overtaken-community safety zone:
    section 148(6) of the HTA – $120.00 fine
  • Motor assisted bicycle – fail to turn out to right when overtaken:
    section 148(6) of the HTA – $85.00 fine
  • Motor assisted bicyle-fail to turn out to right when overtaken – community safety zone – section 148(6) of the HTA – $120.00 fine
  • Pass street car improperly (applies all forms of bicycles and motor vehicles and horses) every rider or driver must stay back at least 2 metres (2 meters = 6.56167979 feet) from the front/back door of the streetcar until all passengers get on/get off and the doors are closed. If you move up before the doors close, you’ll be ticketed. – s.166(1) – $85.00 fine ($150.00 fine in a community safety zone)
  • Approach open streetcar door too closely (applies to all forms of bicycles, motor vehicles and horses) every rider or driver must stay back at least 2 metres (6.56167979 feet) from the front/back street car doors – s.166(2) – $85.00 fine ($150 fine in a community safety zone)
  • Frighten Animal (applies to a motor-assisted bicycle and motor vehicles) every driver or rider must control their motor vehicle or their motor assisted bicycle, so as to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the frightening of the horse or other animal. This is to prevent the animal and or those around the animal from being injured or worse – s.167 – $85.00 fine ($120.00 fine in a community safety zone)
  • Ride two (2) on a bicycle – s.178(2) – $85.00 fine
  • Ride another on a motor-assisted bicycle – s.178(3) – $85.00 fine
  • Cyclist – Fail to Stop – s.218(2) – $85.00 fine
  • Cyclist – Fail to Identify Self – s.218(2) – $85.00 fine
  • Keep in mind that the fines that are reflected above are not the total payable amount, in the event that you fight your ticket and lose or if you just pay it.

    On top of the fine is victim fine surcharges (explained below) and the court costs of $5.00.  The two (2) most common fines found under the pedestrian/cyclist headings are a $35.00 fine and an $85.00 fine. Here is the breakdown for those two fines:

    $35 fine + victim fine surcharge of $10.00 + $5.00 court costs = Total Payable $50.00

    $85 fine + victim fine surcharge of $20.00 + $5.00 court costs= Total Payable $110.00

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    1. The cycling laws in Ontario are just fine. It is Toronto that claims to be a world class city that is acting like to backwater hick town in refusing to allow ebikes on its bike lanes and trails, classifying them variously as motorized vehicles for bike lanes and motorized off road vehicles for their trails. Ontario clearly wants ebikes to be treated as bicycles.

      There are no studies or statistics that ebikes either cruiser style, mountain bike style or scooter style, are any more or less dangerous than regular pedal only bikes. In fact the scooter style has been argued with its full lighting, signals, built in horn, upgraded brakes, and lower center of gravity that it is safer in spite of it being generally heavier.

      The argument that age based enforcement is impossible is a crock. First of all the law says ANY bicyclist do not have to produce identification of any kind, just state verbally their name and address (section 218). If they do not they can be arrested until identification is determined. Besides, law enforcement should be able to differentiate between a 6 year old and a 26 year old you would think.

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