The large and obvious elephant in the cycling realm is difficult to ignore, yet ignore it we do. In Ontario cyclists ride on sidewalks of urban roadways. They have done so for years, despite provincial and municipal laws that prohibit it. Cyclists who ride on sidewalks are supposed to be dangerous to pedestrians and to themselves. At least that is the official judgment. So it would seem that officials should be enforcing the laws that prohibit this action.
Gorski Consulting has conducted an analysis of the 1030 cyclist observation made in the year 2022 that were carried out along the streets of London, Ontario, to see what some of the characteristics might be of the subgroup of riders who ride on sidewalks. The table below shows some of the results.
Of the 414 observations, 313 were male, 52 were female, 34 were children and in 15 instances the gender of the cyclist was unknown. The percentage of female versus male riders was small, about 14.2% but slightly greater than in the overall 1030 observations of all cyclists where females represented about 13.1%.
The number of children riding on sidewalks was observed to be about 8.2%. Given that officials allow children to ride on urban sidewalks this number seems rather small.
In 280 observations it was confirmed that a cyclist was not wearing a helmet. Thus the percentage of riders not wearing a helmet on sidewalks was about 67.6%. This percentage appeared to be higher than the percentage of non use amongst observed cyclists which was previously determined in a study of the first six months of 2022.
For example, pervious analysis was reported on this Gorski Consulting website for the first six months of 2022 wherein 501cyclist observations were made. In 26 instances the gender of cyclist could not be determined. Looking at helmet use, 248 of the 417 males were not wearing a helmet. This amounts to 59.5 % non-usage. There were 58 observations of female cyclists and of those 29 were observed not to be wearing a helmet, or 50.0 % non-usage.
The following photos were selected to provide a general indication of the types of riders that were observed riding on sidewalks of London roads in 2022.
If riding a bicycle on a city sidewalk is dangerous, as indicated by provincial and municipal officials, then the observations obtained by Gorski Consulting in 2022 indicate that large numbers of cyclists are engaging in this “dangerous” activity. Our experience of reconstructing cyclist collisions over the past 40 years indicates that the vast majority of severe injuries and deaths of cyclists did not occur when cyclists were riding on sidewalks. Rather, those serious collisions occurred when cyclists were riding in or crossing an urban roadway. Where the truth lies is difficult to determine as neither the province or municipalities have allowed an independent entity to examine the details of the cyclist collisions on which they base their policies. In fact even basic frequencies of cyclist collisions are not being made publicly available.