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Harriston resident asks Minto council to restrict cycling on sidewalks

by Patrick Raftis

MINTO - Council here will once again ponder measures to curb sidewalk cycling after receiving a letter from a Harriston resident regarding safety concerns.

In a letter received by council at its July 4 meeting, Harriston resident Irma DeVries, reported some near misses involving cyclists.

“I’ve been almost hit by some young adults cycling on our sidewalks, and last week my husband almost hit a sidewalk cyclist when he was turning into a parking lot. The cyclist on the sidewalk seemed to have come out of nowhere,” Devries stated.

In her letter, Devries suggested council prohibit people over 14 years of age from riding on the sidewalk, and asked council to install signage to make people aware of the prohibition.

CAO Bill White responded to Devries’ letter, expressing regret about her experiences, but noting, “excluding sidewalk use based on age is not really enforceable based on my understanding of legislation.”

At the meeting, councillor Judy Dirksen requested council consider acting.

“I’ve been kind of quietly making noise about that - so time to get a little louder I guess,” said Dirksen, who requested a staff report be prepared outlining options.

White noted an informal 2014 poll of Harriston businesses on the issue of downtown sidewalk cycling resulted initially in little interest in taking action.

“But then we got more and more that said ‘we do need to do something,’” White stated. “We kind of parked that issue and haven’t acted on it.”

He added, “Having a good bylaw and enforcing it” is the challenge.

Deputy mayor Ron Faulkner agreed.

“I was chief in Harriston for 13 years. We went through that many times and at one time they did enact a bylaw,” said Faulkner.

“It’s almost impossible to enforce because the chances of you being right there when that bike goes past is pretty small. And second of all, judges got upset at us when we did get one in front of them, (wondering) what this issue was doing in front of the court.”

Faulkner suggested an education program might be more successful.

“Having said that, on a Friday or a Sunday night, with holiday traffic, it’s more dangerous to have the bike on the road than on the sidewalk,” he added.

Council directed staff to prepare a report.

July 14, 2017


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