Allowing cyclists to ride on sidewalks is a complicated issue that has both benefits and drawbacks. Yet it is important to obtain reliable data to allow a proper study of those benefits and drawbacks. Gorski Consulting provides some data from observations made along the streets of London Ontario in 2022 and 2023.

Gorski Consulting has been involved in observations and analysis of a variety of traffic units for several decades in the vicinity of southern Ontario. One of our recent studies has involved cyclists. It is accepted by many that the numbers of persons riding self-propelled and assisted cycles is expected to rise in the coming years. And a variety of infrastructure is being built to accommodate them. Yet little attention is being paid to cyclist safety. The vast majority of roads in London Ontario do not contain dedicated cycling lanes and this means that many cyclists can be expected to ride in close proximity to motor vehicle traffic for some time to come. Cyclists who are concerned with their safety often chose to ride on a sidewalk. Yet that action is prohibited by laws in London as well as in the Province of Ontario. Up to now no one has conducted any research in the London area to estimate the numbers of cyclists riding on sidewalks or to document basic characteristics of these riders. Gorski Consulting remains the only entity that performs this work. This article presents the results of our observations conducted during the years 2022 and 2023.

For the purposes of this study cyclists on sidewalks are those who are observed either riding or standing with their cycles on a sidewalk. It also includes cyclists who have discounted and are found standing with their cycle. Cyclists excluded from the study were those who were seen riding or walking within a pedestrian crossing. In the vast majority of instances cyclists observed in a pedestrian crossing originally came from a sidewalk however it was our decision to focus on cyclists who were actually observed on a sidewalk. Details about these sub-groups may be described in a future article.

The sidewalk cyclist data are shown in the following two tables.

The total number of cyclist observations conducted by Gorski Consulting were 1083 in 2022 and 983 in 2023. The reason for the smaller observations in 2023 is because there was a one-month period between mid-June and mid-July when observations could not be made. As seen in the above tables there were 547 cyclists in 2022 and 567 cyclists in 2023 who were observed on London’s sidewalks. So, even though the total number of cyclist observations were lower in 2023, the number of cyclists on sidewalks was actually greater than in 2022.

Looking at the percentage of female riders there were only 80 females observed in each of the two years whereas there were 445 males in 2022 and 466 males in 2023. This results in female percentages of 15.2 in 2022 and 14.6 in 2023.

Interestingly, the numbers of cyclists observed to be wearing helmets appeared to be greater in 2023 than in 2022. In 2022 388 cyclists, both male & female, were observed to be wearing their helmets while residing on a city sidewalk. However in 2023 that number rose to 421. On a percentage basis 73.9 % were observed to wear helmets in 2022 and 77.1 % in 2023.

While age is difficult to determine from photos of cyclists it can be seen from the above tables that the number of children, aged below 14 years, is low. In 2022 only 44 such children were observed and in 2023 there were only 47. On a percentage basis 8.4 % of cyclists on sidewalks were children while in 2023 there were 8.6 %. This is interesting because the City of London allows children to ride their bicycles on sidewalks.

There are many varieties of cyclists riding on or adjacent to roads in London, Ontario. Some riders can be challenged to ride safely in a lane adjacent to motor vehicle traffic. And there are challenging roads where cyclists should not ride in a lane regardless of their capabilities. In those instances cyclists should be riding on a sidewalk. These issues are not being officially acknowledged.


Officially, we are told that it is against the law in London, and throughout the Province of Ontario, to ride a bicycle on an urban sidewalk. Yet more cyclists are observed on sidewalks than on roads. No one is acknowledging this large elephant in the room. In fact police ignore cyclists who ride on a sidewalk as they also do it, as shown in the photo below.

View of two London City police officers riding on a downtown sidewalk if April of 2022. Officials fail to acknowledge that riding on a sidewalk can be safe if done with caution and consideration of other users.

A reason why so many cyclists are seen riding on sidewalks is that they may feel unsafe riding in a lane shared with much larger, heavier and faster motor vehicle traffic. That conclusion sounds plausible and various surveys have suggested this is the reason. However no detailed study has been conducted on this issue in London, Ontario.

Cyclist injuries and the cause of them can only be described as a secret that is held by officials who have that data. Our previous articles have shown that annually about 120 to 150 cyclists visit hospital emergency departments in London however there is no publicly available information that describes why those visits were made, what types of injuries were involved or in what circumstances those injuries occurred. It is logical that many cyclist injuries may occur yet a visit to an emergency department may not occur because, or example, the injuries may not need urgent treatment. So the numbers of injured cyclists could be much greater than reported. The numbers of cyclists riding on sidewalks may be one indicator that cyclists may be sustaining injuries from riding on the road but, again, there is no useful data to confirm or deny this.

In a January 4, 2024 article (“What Has Been Learned From Five Years of Reported Cyclist Collisions in London Ontario”) we described that on 13 cyclist collisions were reported in London in the past five years. Essentially nothing of use was provided in the descriptions of these serious-injury and fatal collisions. Yet even these minimal descriptions provided general locations where these collisions occurred and lead to some concerns. The dates and locations of these collisions are noted below”

May 24, 2019: Adelaide St near Dundas St.

June 15, 2019: Wellington St at Horton St.

June 28, 2019: Hamilton Rd near East St.

July 22, 2019: Exeter Rd near Wonderland Rd.

August 22, 2019: Commissioners Rd near Andover Dr.

September 5, 2020: Gainsborough Rd near Hyde Park Rd.

March2, 2022: Trafalgar St near Elm St.

August 7, 2022: Sunningdale Rd near Adelaide St.

September 18, 2022: Hamilton Rd near Inkerman St.

September 1, 2023: Adelaide St near Dundas St.

December 1, 2023: Wharncliffe Rd near Riverview Ave.

December 8, 2023: York St near William St.

Almost all of these collision sites contained no infrastructure to separate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic. And the collisions likely occurred when the cyclist was struck on the road, not on a sidewalk. So even this minimal fact warrants consideration. A great deal more could be learned if information was released about the motions of the cyclist and the striking object but that has never happened. Thus, as we indicated in our previous article, nothing has been learned and future cyclist injuries and deaths are just a short time away.