Saskatoon city committee votes to let cyclists ride in traffic

A city administration report said the change would make transit safer for cyclists. File / Global News

The City of Saskatoon‘s committee on transportation voted to remove the bylaw requiring cyclists to remain in a bike lane.

A report prepared by the city administration recommended cyclists be allowed to ride in traffic if they choose, even if a bike lane is available, and that children younger than 14-years-old be allowed to ride on the sidewalk.

The report cites similar bylaws in other cities, like Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto, as proof the change will be good for Saskatoon.

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“It seems to be the way municipalities are going with it,” said Coun. Bev Dubois.

It says repealing the bylaw will make left turns easier for cyclists and makes regular transit easier and safer, as they would be able to avoid lanes that are blocked by buses or debris.

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Jay Magus, transportation director for the city, told the committee that police and community support officers were responsible for enforcement and that it would largely be up to cyclists, pedestrians and drivers to regulate themselves and share the road or sidewalks.

It’s the latest change to the bike laws and bike lanes since the lanes were built in 2015. The city removed the lanes on 4th Avenue last year after safety complaints.

Several other potential bike bylaw changes are still before administration.

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Cathy Watts, chairperson for the volunteer group Saskatoon Cycles, said the frequent changes were doing more harm than good.

“[City councillors] have an active transportation plan, which I think must sit on a shelf with a lot of dust,” she said.
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“And it says right in there, ‘promote cycling.’ But since they’ve got that plan I’d have to say that they’re gradually eroding away the fact of promoting cycling.”

“Don’t give up on us,” Dubois said, when asked about Watts’ views.

“It seems to be an issue that is very controversial and there have been things that have been done that haven’t quite worked. And I guess we have to just keep trying things.”

The vote, which passed unanimously, sends the matter back to the administration to be written as a bylaw. City council will vote on the matter at a later date.

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