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Thursday, October 8, 2009

eBikes off, but keep pedal bikes on sidewalks: TCU's Bambrick

The Toronto Cyclists Union spokesperson Yvonne Bambrick has told the Toronto Sun that she believes eBikes styled as scooters should not be allowed to park or remain stationary on the sidewalk, but the TCU remains mum over whether it should be okay to continue allowing pedal bicycles to ride on sidewalks in Toronto.

According to sources at the Toronto Sun, Bambrick resumed her rants against these modern vehicles by stating "These things are so heavy that you couldn't pedal them for any distance at all, they're primarily made to be powered by the electric motor."  The relevance of that statement, especially when the discussion was about parked bikes, was not explained.

The Sun also interviewed Toronto Police Traffic Services Sergeant Tim Burrows, who seems to know a lot about the issues. He is quoted in the newspaper stating that eBikes on the sidewalk are "absolutely" dangerous because of their extra weight and speed. Again, the relevance of this about something that's parked was not clear.

There was no Burrows comment on the fact that in 2009, Toronto's sidewalk accidents that caused hospitalization or fatalities have involved pedestrians and conventional pedal bicycles, not eScooters.

Old bylaws, old thinking, over-thinking

Toronto city council's public works and infrastructure committee is going to seriously weigh these educated opinions as it considers modernizing the city's decades old bylaw that allows bikes with tires of specific diameters to ride on sidewalks.

Due to that bizarre city bylaw – the only one of its kind in Canada and possibly the world – eScooter riders have been able legally to ride on Toronto's sidewalks. "The intent of this bylaw," says the city, "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," the city says.

Although simple shopkeepers routinely ask for proof of age of people who "appear" to be under the legal age to buy tobacco or alcohol,  the city seems to have forgotten that officers can – and frequently do –use personal discretion in the enforcement of laws and, if properly trained to identify the difference between an adult and a "young child" could ask adults and teen pedalists to get off the sidewalk.

The city could have worded the law to match the storekeepers' signage, which declares that they will not sell to people "who appear" to be underage, but didn't. As a result, eScooter tires fit into the ridiculous description of what's legal to ride on the sidewalk.

The Toronto Cyclists Union document reportedly excluded any move to ban its members from riding conventional bicycles on the sidewalk if they conform to the tire size rule.


Bambrick gets press

Bambrick has repeatedly railed against safety issues such as madatory helmets, rider licensing or increased enforcement of bicycle laws, yet she and her group remain credible with the mainstream media because she's so easy to get ahold of for a quote and looks quaintly photogenic on her bicycle featuring plastic flowers on its carrier basket. (Note lack of helmet.)

The TCU and Bambrick continue to campaign against the use of eBikes in Toronto despite the Union's own online survey that showed the vast majority of respondents clearly stating in their written submissions that eBikes belong on the road.

The city also has a Bicycle Parking Plan, outlining principles and practises for parking two-wheelers, which states as its guiding theme: "Secure and convenient bicycle parking must be available at all cycling destinations."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yvonne Bambrick just makes the TCU and all its members look more and more argumentative and anachronistic. Why do they keep her?

What's the opposite of community-building? She and the TCU clearly are that.

Anonymous said...

How is the eBike motor relevant to a parked bike? That makes no sense in the real world the rest of us live in.

I'm sure the City would not like all the e-Scooters taking up free parking spots that could otherwise be generating needed revenue from parked cars.

See: BY-LAW No. 928-2005 Motorcycle parking

Leo said...

This whole debate is ridiculos but sadly just like the TCU. Bikes should not be on the sidewalk unless it's a little kid... and who cannot tell the difference between a little kid and a teenager or adult. And what does parking spots have to do with anything like the motor. Is she insane?

I wish the city would not give her so much creedance because there are 100000 or more bikes in the city and she only has 600 members. Rmemeber that!

Yvonne said...

Hi there,

Wondering why you bother having a disclaimer about personal attacks if you clearly don't take it seriously. 2 of the 3 comments on this article are personal attacks against me, or my organisation... as is the post itself! Did you think to get in touch with me to ask for further clarification, or are you happy just jumping to conclusions and being angry? I'm happy to talk with you anytime - you know where to find me.

Here are the scooter style e-bike survey results - clearly indicating the opposite of what one of your ANONYMOUS commenters states.

https://bikeunion.to/news/2009/06/15/scooter-style-e-bike-survey-results-are

"Over a 10 day period, 555 Torontonians completed our very simple opinion survey regarding the somewhat controvertial scooter style e-bikes that have recently been added to the provincial definition of 'bicycle' via the broad definition of 'power-assisted bicycle'

Survey results can be viewed by following this link, or by opening the attached excel summary document.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/sr.aspx?sm=xr1FClvlCQMd3KwuMFxzJBws0jdbdgp2M...

In short...the survey results show that the bike union's position is indeed a reflection of the opinion of the majority of respondents.

87.3% of respondents feel that this type of vehicle is not a bicycle

88.3% of respondents feel that this is a motor-vehicle

63.8% of respondents feel that these vehicles should not be used in on-street bike lanes

78.4% of respondents feel that these vehicles should not be used on off-road bike/multi-user paths

Additionally, there was a wide variety of open ended answers that can be viewed via the link, or in the attached document.

Also - I, speaking on behalf of the Toronto Cyclists Union, do not support sidewalk cycling. However, the one deeply saddening incident that happened earlier this year in Scarborough, in which an elderly woman was killed in a collision with a bike on a sidewalk, occurred when a 15 year old came into contact with her, despite both of them trying to avoid one another. Should this kid have been riding on a major arterial road like Kennedy where the accident happened? Where are the bike lanes that would have protected him and provided safe passage on the road? That's what the bike union is working towards.

For more, accurate, information about the Toronto Cyclist Union, visit http://bikeunion.to

We support and understand the tremendous value that electric assist bicycles have for those with longer commutes, or mobility issues. However, we do not believe that scooter-style e-bikes should ever have been classified as bicycles, and belong instead in the motor vehicles category.

Sincerely,
Yvonne Bambrick

Anonymous said...

Yvonne is correct, it's a "simple" survey.

I have read it thoroughly, and if you read all the additional comments that people added, not just their yes-no answers, over 85% of respondents said that ebikes belong on the road.

You'd have to be a moron to say "yes" to "is an eScooter a bicycle?" which is not the same question as, "should eScooters be treated the same as bicycles under the law?"

Moving vans, school buses and Smart cars are clearly not the same but are in the same legal category.

Ebikes and bicycles should be -- and are -- in the same category in Ontario. Queen's Park got it right for once.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that the survey proves is that Torontonians aren't educated enough on ebikes.
If bikers can't share the road with ebikes, bikers shouldn't also share the road with Cars.
If i was in the TCU, I'd be on the ebikers side so our city would add more bike/ebike lanes in this city and maybe more free parking for these bikes/ebikes.