Police to Promote Cycling Safety through 'Enforcement and Education'

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 21, 2007

Hamilton Police Service has sent out the following bulletin - be warned:

Hamilton Police Service has identified June 15th to June 24th, 2007 as its Bicycle Safety and Enforcement Program. This program is aimed at cyclists in an attempt to promote safe cycling within the City of Hamilton. It will focus on Highway Traffic Act Violations, in particular:

  • Stop Sign Violations
  • Red Light Violations
  • Drive Wrong Way-One Way Traffic Violations and
  • Helmet Violations

All current City of Hamilton By-laws such as cycling on sidewalks will also be enforced.

As the start of summer is now upon us more cyclists, young and old, will be on our roads. Through this program, which includes enforcement and education, we are hoping to promote a Safe Summer of Cycling.

As in other enforcement programs we will begin with a few days of education to the public, with enforcement scheduled to begin June 15th and continuing to June 24th, 2007.

Our message will be aimed at all cyclists with the reminder that safety is a major concern for this Police Service and community. Compliance with the rules and regulations as they pertain to cycling will promote this belief.

Our Service Divisional Bicycle Patrol Officers are involved in this program, along with uniformed patrol officers. Together we hope to educate cyclists, enforce the Highway Traffic Act and City by-laws.

Enforcement and Education go hand in hand and combining the two, we hope to proactively assist in the reduction of cycling injuries.

It will be interesting to see if they also pursue "enforcement and education" on motorists who commit Highway Traffic Act violations that expose cyclists to the risk of cycling injuries.

(Thanks to Randy at TLC for passing along the alert.)

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2007 at 12:57:36

I will be writing a letter today to the police department to suggest that they target california stops by cars above all cyclist infractions, if safety is really their motivation...

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2007 at 14:35:55

An open letter to Hamilton Police Services:

I am writing in regards to your Bicycle Safety and Enforcement Program. As a driver and a cyclist, I am thrilled to see that our city's police service is committed to ensuring the safety of cyclists on our roads. I am slightly dismayed however at the approach that is being taken. I agree that cyclists need to obey the traffic laws as much as automobile drivers need to. But by targeting enforcement actions toward cyclists specifically, you help to foster the image of the "outlaw cyclist" who causes accidents and "seals his own fate" through reckless behaviour. Statistics show however, that cycling is even safer than walking (which is itself vastly safer than driving) -- and most cyclist injuries are caused by driver neglect, not cyclist neglect.

As a driver, I always do my best to give cyclists extra space and extra time, because I know what it's like to be on a bike and sharing the road with heavy, powerful, intimidating cars. As a cyclist, I try to obey all laws, and I know that each move that I make when automobiles are nearby can put me in danger. In short, as a cyclist, I am inherently aware of my surroundings, and have a fundamental understanding of the risks associated with each manoevre. It's all part of my built-in self-preservation instinct as a human. Drivers, however, have a more difficult time being in tune with their surroundings since they are strapped into an airbag-protected seat, enclosed in a steel and glass cage, and equipped with a powerful engine which can easily whisk them away from any uncomfortable situation.

The simple fact is that cars are the major cause of cyclist and pedestrian injury, not bikes. And this city has some of the worst driving habits I have ever seen, stemming form the fact that most of the downtown streets feel like highways. People speed here as a rule. Going 70 in a 50 and 80 in a 60 is like a God-given right in Hamilton. When I'm cycling, cars routinely pass me immediately before a stop sign, cut me off, and coast through the intersection at 5 to 10 kilometres per hour. If I come to a complete stop at an intersection on my bicycle, I will often get an angry look, occasionally a horn honk and once in a while a rude gesture directed my way by the car driver behind me who was inconvenienced for 8 seconds while I dared to try to protect my own safety.

As a driver and a cyclist, I just wanted to share with you my relatively balanced perspective on the bike-safety issue. The bottom line is that any bike safety campaign should be targeting car drivers first. Motorists need to be made more aware of the kind of damage they are capable of inflicting, especially upon the more vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists). Education and enforcement of one motorist could have the same positive effects as educating and enforcing 100 cyclists. Ticket all speeders on our roads, no matter how small the infraction. Monitor stop signs (and cars turning on red lights) and ticket any motorist that does not come to a 100% complete stop. Once these more dangerous road users are tamed, THEN focus your attention on making sure cyclists stop at every stop sign.

By focussing enforcement toward cyclists alone, yet turning a blind eye to all motorists who speed by "only" 10km/h, the police are showing that the true motivation behind this program is NOT cyclist safety, which begs the question: what is?

Thank you for your time,

Sean Burak

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By Alex Patterson (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2007 at 16:18:44

If police really wanted to ensure the safety of cyclists they'd start putting officers on bicycles without the tell-tale yellow jackets and simply have them ride around town for a few hours at a time. Every time I ride my bike I lose count of traffic infactions by cars around me, many of which endanger my life, not to mention the numerous vocal THREATS made against me. Perhaps if it were publicized that many of Hamilton's cyclists were infact police in disguise, people would be more hesitant to behave so badly.

That said, it's time to review many of our bycicle laws - riding the "wrong way" on a desolate residential street, or stopping, surveying and proceding with caution at a red light in a deserted intersection is no more dangerous than jaywalking in said situations. These kinds of enforcement blizes are nothing but cash grabs which blame the victims of car carnage.

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By frustrated cyclist (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2007 at 16:26:05

i am an avidt cyclist who has been in multiple accidents with cars in this city and fully realise the damage a car can do to a cyclist and therefore treat stop lights and signs as such a place to stop look/wait for a clearing and then proceed but perhaps while judging the cycling habits of others they should take a good look at their own cycling habits they think that because they are police they should not be required to follow the rules that they are trying to enforce other cyclists to abide by i see police on bike constantly riding down crowded sidewalks and riding the wrong way down one way streets now i will admit that sometimes there is a need for such behaviour if they really have somewhere to get in a hurry but when they are very obviously cruising and going no where fast they should be following the rules that they are trying to enforce its a little hypocritical dont you think to hand out a ticket for something you were doing yourself five minutes earlier

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 25, 2007 at 09:34:43

I saw some kids riding on the sidewalk today. They were probably about 10-12 years old, and were probably told by their parents that riding on the sidewalk is safer. This is a fallacy: riding on the sidewalk is significantly more dangerous for the rider and for pedestrians ( I can't help but point out that if we truly made the road safer for cyclists by attacking the true culprit (cars), we would all benefit -- and maybe kids would be allowed to go for bike rides again instead of being cooped up within their single neighbourhood block "for safety reasons".

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 25, 2007 at 13:44:18

Hi Sean,

I used to live on Sterling St. near Mac. At least once a month there would be a cruiser at the nearest intersection targetting all the drivers who failed to stop. In the six years that I lived there, I only saw one occasion when they did a blitz on cyclists failing to stop. I'd like to see more enforcement of both frankly, and I agree that there needs to be more focus on drivers since they are far more dangerous, but I must disagree with your perception that enforcement is currently being focussed on cyclists alone while drivers are given a 'blind eye'.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 25, 2007 at 15:41:04

highwater, I am referring specifically to the blitz mentioned in the blog post we are commenting on, which states with no question that the enforcement focus will be on cyclists (under the guise of cyclist safety). In reality we should not need blitzes at all. There should be non-stop consistent enforcement, and the overall focus should start with the most dangerous users moving down the line to the least dangerous.

In regards to Sterling, they have improved the street recently, but if they are serious about safety they should implement traffic calming devices (such as speed "humps" and curb bump-outs) and remove the stop signs which, over time, become useless as regular drivers find that they can coast through them without penalty -- and which burden cyclists and buses much more than they burden cars, giving people less incentive to leave their cars at home.

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By StillInShock (anonymous) | Posted August 13, 2008 at 18:18:36

Hello I am so frustrated with what happened today I was walking with my 10 year old daughter and 2 year old son when a girl of 9/10 came hurtling towards us on the pavement. Imagine my horror when she just screamed and did not brake as I expected. I had to push my son out of the way with one hand and stop her with the other - as she put her feet down. I told her off and told her that it is illegal to ride on the pavement and that she could actually kill someone.

Anyway I was upset but saw her mother coming up the road (they live on my street a large urban street) and decided to ask her to tell her daughter to be careful. She said she would tell her off and I told her it was illegal to which she replied NOT UNTIL THE AGE OF 16. I told her she did not even brake and she said THERE ARE NO BRAKES. I said she should get it fixed and that they could not be - Astonished I told her she should not be riding it then and that she could put someone in hospital and if elderly or infant could kill them. As I walked away she was till arguing with me and giving lame excuses.

Can you help I am incensed and would like to know Is there a legal age to ride on the pavement??

Thank you for reading/listening I needed to get it off my chest

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By darmock (registered) | Posted August 17, 2009 at 22:52:10

It seems that there is an acceptable amount of bicycle deaths allowed before there is anything done about it. The law (HTA) is plain and simple that most anyone with half a brain could figure out.Sidewalks are for people not bicycles. However in Hamilton this has not the case. When I was a small boy I was taught bicycle saftey before I was allowed to ride on the road.I have been riding on the road now for over 40 years. To the gentleman named Sean I don't know where you got your facts that cars cause bicycle accidents. Most of the deaths in Hamilton were a result of the cyclist riding on the sidewalk then going suddenly onto the street. Example the cyclist run over after going onto the road to avoid a car exiting a parking lot upper James he was ran over by transport. Do you think the driver of the truck expected the cyclist to dart onto the road ? Another one was cyclist on sidewalk goes onto street to avoid wheel chair on sidewalk cyclist run over by pickup. I myself respect cyclists on the road however,if you dart on the street from the sidewalk I can hardly be held responsible if I run that person over. I personally have had several instinces where a cyclist has come off the sidewalk and I almost ran them over. When I informed them how close they came to being killed been given the finger been told where to go and the best one was that I would be in trouble. Barring the fact they would be dead.Remember life is short enough but death is eternal. Make no mistake laws of the road are a result of fatalities. Proper education will save lives. If ignore these laws your taking you life in your hands make no mistake you can only roll the dice so many time before your luck will run out.Remember a bicycle is regarded as a vehicle and expected to obey the rules of the road if some one in a car cuts you off get the plate and report them and get them off the road. In closing I do not wish harm on anyone but if you roll the dice be prepared to pay the price. Lets hope it does not cost your life. Be safe for your own sake.


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By Don1956 (anonymous) | Posted May 26, 2012 at 21:34:24

Tonight I was walking my dog at Barton and ottawa and a guy on a bike rode up behind us and in passing hit my dog with his bike. I yelled at him and he just rode away. I know the the police don't come into this part of Hamilton after night fall but something should be done about the unsafe condition on the sidewalks in this city. If I had been lucky enough to have got my hands on the fellow I would be in jail right now and he would be riding around with the apparent blessing of the police and City Hall...

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