Safety considerations for everyone: pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers
I would love to see Mississauga develop bike lanes that rival Amsterdam. Please watch this video to see what Amsterdam city planners did: https://youtu.be/FlApbxLz6pA. They have a fantastic system that is safe for everyone using the roads.
The greatest problem I see is that people (drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians) don't know what are the rules of bicycling. Here are some accidents I've seen:
- Toronto Queen's Quay bicycle path: a cyclist did not follow the new bicycle stop lights on the path and ran into a pedestrian (with right of way) crossing the bike path. The cyclist and pedestrian got into an argument and almost started a fight. Both cyclist and pedestrian thought they were in the right.
- Residential area: A pedestrian saw a car and cyclist approaching a 4-way stop sign. The pedestrian paused to make sure that both car and cyclist would stop before crossing the road. The car stopped but the cyclist continued without stopping for the pedestrian.
- Mississauga Rd. & Eglinton intersection: a cyclist made a right turn onto Eglinton without stopping at the red light or checking traffic, two things drivers check (or they fail their driver's test). The driver going straight on Eglinton had to brake immediately due to the sudden appearance of the cyclist.
- Toronto financial district, rush hour: a cyclist used the road's left-turn lane to turn. He is waiting in the middle of the intersection, but due to the speed and frequency of both cars and pedestrians, he had to wait until the light turned yellow to make his turn. At the last minute, a pedestrian in a rush ran across as he was about to make his turn, and narrowly avoided running into the pedestrian.
Mixed use bike paths are also very dangerous. Here are some examples:
- A cyclist rounds the bend and spots two pedestrians ahead. The pedestrians don't walk in a straight line zigzagging along a wide path. The cyclist attempts to swerve around them to pass, but the pedestrians aren't aware of the cyclist at all.
- Park with paved bike path: Joggers, roller-skaters, and cyclists share the path, but sometimes a pedestrian thinks the path is a sidewalk or a work truck takes up half the path. Also, there is a speed difference between all the different people using the path. Joggers are running maybe 4-5 km/h while a racing bicycle can go up to 40 km/h. Roller-skaters going fast will need a wide berth as they zigzag left and right to move.
Lastly, roads with high speed limits are simply unsafe for cyclists.
- Erin Mills Pkwy, speed limit 70 km/h, is a major artery for cars, trucks, and buses. It also has highway exits for 401, 403, and Gardiner. The speed and density of cars is too dangerous for cyclists without a proper barrier. At the moment, cyclists are using the sidewalk, but the sidewalk is technically for pedestrians.
- The city needs to teach everyone the rules of cycling. Mail out pamphlets and make sure everyone understands the rules. Pedestrians have the right of way, but they should also look before crossing. Too many times, I've seen pedestrians not look before crossing because they think they are always in the right (even when they jaywalk) and they are too busy with their phones instead of their safety. I've seen cyclists acting like pedestrians and vehicles whenever the situation suits their needs. I've seen cars driving or parking on the bike lane, drivers turning right without checking the bike lane, and even passengers opening a car door without checking for cyclists.
- The city needs to make roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks dedicated for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Roads with faster speed limits (above 50 km/h) require physical barriers, not just a line on the pavement. Only roads in residential areas and slower speed limits (below 50 km/h) should use lines to differentiate between bike lane and car lane. There should be a designated waiting corner for cyclists at intersections with lights, a place that isn't in the driver's blind spot, and away from pedestrians.
- The city needs more connections to different bike paths. At the moment, bike paths are spread out and they end without a connecting bike path. It is dangerous if the road has multiple speed limits because the cyclist has a dedicated space for one portion, and the next they are right beside a fast-moving vehicle.
Please do study what the city planners did in Amsterdam. They have spent 50 years studying and researching how to implement safe bicycle paths in their city. I hope we can do the same too.