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Friday, July 17, 2009

Hundreds of unsafe bicycles ticketed in Toronto blitz

Over seven hundred cyclists were ticketed by police for unsafe equipment offences in Toronto's one-week safety campaign the last week of June, 2009.

Just over a third of the tickets issued by Toronto police to cyclists in the blitz (747 of 2,204) were for "vehicle equipment offences," the vast majority because the bikes were missing important safety devices such as head and tail lights and warning horns or bells.

Those safety features are already factory-installed on new e-Bikes.

1,373 tickets for 'moving violations' were issued to cyclists, for offences such as disobeying traffic signals and failing to yield to pedestrians. (See also the 2006 B.C. report that ranked disobeying traffic signals as the #5 cause of bicycle-at-fault traffic collisions).

Over 3,500 tickets were issued to car drivers for endangering Toronto cyclists, for offences such as failing to yield the right-of-way (the #4 cause of all bike-car collisions mentioned in the British Columbia report) and improperly opening parked vehicle doors.

198 parking tickets were issued to vehicles for blocking bicycle lanes.

Is ignorance bliss?

According to the Toronto Cyclists Union, many bicyclists on Toronto streets are oblivious to the regulations that make the roadways safer.

"Many cyclists don't yet know that bells & lights are in fact mandatory," says the TCU, and these riders should be excused from their tickets because "forcing a cyclist to pay a ticket is likely going to tie up money that could otherwise have been used for the purchase of lights and/or a bell."

Bicycle lights are sold at Canadian Tire for about $7, and bells cost $2.50 at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

The TCU dismisses many of the 2,204 tickets given to bicyclists as "bogus tickets issued by some undertrained officers..."

84 minors under age 18 were ticketed for not wearing bicycle helmets, which are mandatory in Ontario for underage bicyclists. The fine and fees for this offence total $75.

Totals down

Police did not write tickets in every case: they issued 852 cautions to drivers and cyclists for "a variety of offences," according to the Toronto Police Services news release.

It may be that education campaigns and heightened safety equipment awareness due to the conspicuous mandatory lights, horns and helmets on e-Bikes has helped contribute to a decline in the number of tickets issued in the annual one-week blitz.

In total the Toronto police wrote out 5,907 tickets, down from 6,671 in 2008, according to the Toronto Star.

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