While it may be common sense for drivers to stop at a red light, the same can’t be said for all cyclists.
During a recent three-day bicycle and pedestrian enforcement blitz in Riverdale and East York, police say they were surprised to see that some cyclists had no idea the traffic lights applied to them.
Traffic Sergeant Jack West, who headed up the blitz, says this shows more education needs to be given to cyclists and pedestrians about the laws of road safety.
“We had a couple cyclists comment to us, ‘I didn’t know it was against the law to ride a bicycle through a red light,’” he said. “So there’s some work to be done on this and we’re working on a new Toronto Police safety pamphlet that we’ll hand out to cyclists and pedestrians in the near future.”
West said this was the most serious offence he came across during the three-day campaign. It also turned out to be the most frequent. Out of just over 400 offences recorded, 211 of them were cyclists failing to stop for red lights or stop signs.
Far behind were 32 infractions for improper bicycle lighting, 27 for bicycles on sidewalks, and the top offence for pedestrians was failing to use the crosswalk, with 28 offences. West said the infractions seen by pedestrians ‘absolutely’ echo the high volume of pedestrians killed by vehicles back in January.
“They’re crossing mid-block, and I think when a vehicle is approaching an intersection, the driver’s eyes are way ahead, focusing on the lights at the intersection,” he said. “So the driver of a motor vehicle gets a real surprise when a pedestrian walks out in front of them mid-block.
“So to bring that car to a controlled stop is much less likely because they’re almost on top of that pedestrian,” West added.
When it comes to pedestrian safety, West said from his own observations, he thinks there is one simple way for pedestrians to decrease their chances of being hit by a vehicle.
“During the evening, about 97 percent of the pedestrians crossing are wearing dark clothing,” he said. “If you’re going to go out, wear something light in colour, or reflective if you’re a cyclist.”
West said another problem for those on the road is the law only indicates helmets are mandatory for people under 18 years of age. It makes him happy to see that some people still don the head protection even when they aren’t legally obliged to.
“I see people beyond the age of 18 and they’re wearing a helmet,” he said. “I’ve got to applaud those people, because they’re leading by example to younger people.”
Offences by the numbers
During the campaign, the following Highway Traffic Act offences notices were issued:
Improper bicycle lighting: 32
Improper brakes on bicycle: 4
No-horn, bicycle: 84
Cyclist ride in crossover: 1
Cyclist fail to stop for police: 7
Bicycle – unable to keep both hands on handle bars: 1
Bicycle with 62cm wheels ride on sidewalk: 27
Disobey red light and stop sign: 211
Pedestrian fail to use crosswalk: 28
Pedestrian disobey red light: 8
Pedestrian disobey “don’t walk” signal: 12
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