Let’s be honest, cycling in Saskatoon is hard. Forget for a moment the fact that we live in near arctic conditions for half the year, the urban sprawl of Saskatoon is nearly three times the size of Manhattan, and let’s not even mention the substandard condition of our roads. The biggest barrier to cycling in Saskatoon remains the underdeveloped cycling culture in the City.
There is definitely a growing movement of cyclists who are passionate and dedicated to building a cycling culture that embraces and facilitates cycling in Saskatoon. In order to help continue that growth it is critical that all cyclists know and understand the laws and regulations in regards to cycling in the City. Each and every biker is an ambassador for cycling in the City, so I often shake my head on my rides to work when I see fellow cyclists who do not follow the basic rules of the road. This creates a bad name for all cyclists and makes drivers wary and irritable towards sharing the road. Motor vehicles do not own the road, but in the same vein, cyclists cannot expect to receive equal treatment if we do not follow the rules set out to govern bicycles.
City of Saskatoon Bylaw No. 6884, No. 7200 and The Highway Traffic Act
The City of Saskatoon Bylaw No. 6884 (the “Bylaws”) was enacted to control and regulate the operation of bicycles in Saskatoon. The following sections of the Bylaws are basic but important for the safety of everyone who travels the streets of Saskatoon, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists:
- All Bicycles must have a horn or bell (the Bylaws s. 6)
- All Bicycles that are ridden at night (from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise) must have a headlight and a red light or reflective device (the Bylaws s. 7)
- Except when passing, no more than two cyclists should be biking side by side (the Bylaws s. 9)
- Where there is a designated bicycling lane, all cyclists should use it (the Bylaws s. 13)
Interestingly, there is no requirement for cyclists to wear a helmet, although it is highly recommended!
The two sections that have the greatest impact on cyclists are section 8 and section 24. Section 8 provides that cyclists should ride on the road and not on the sidewalk. Furthermore, except when turning or passing, cyclists should be positioned in the furthest most right hand part of the driving lane. Subsequently, section 24 says that a bicycle and cyclist are subject to the relevant provisions of The Highway Traffic Act and the City of Saskatoon Traffic Bylaw No. 7200. What does this mean to the cyclists of Saskatoon? It means, cyclists are required to follow the same rules as a motor vehicle including but not limited to: signalling; obeying all traffic signs; stopping at intersections as directed; turning where permitted; driving with due care and attention; and obeying posted speed limits (sorry Tour de France hopefuls)!
A very common violation occurs when cyclists pass motor vehicles on the right hand side while the motorists are stopped at an intersection. Unless there is a designated bicycle lane on the right, you are breaking the law when you pass vehicles on the right hand side. Not only is it incredibly dangerous, it is illegal. There is no lawful reason for a motorist to expect a cyclist to appear there and it is probable that if a collision occurred it would be the cyclist’s fault. This is just one of many ways in which a cyclist could be at fault in an accident involving a motor vehicle. It is important to know that as a cyclist if you are at fault in an accident and do not have liability insurance, either through a home insurance package or otherwise, the motor vehicles insurer could pursue you personally for the damages.
As cyclists we need to band together and earn our place on the road by following the law relating to cycling. The law may not be perfect, but it is designed to keep everyone on the road safe. Compliance by all cyclists is another step in the right direction: building an improved cycling culture in Saskatoon!
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