News: Waterloo Region Removes Two-Abreast Cycling Prohibition

IMG_1175cThe Region of Waterloo becomes the latest municipality to remove a local by-law provision prohibiting cycling two abreast.  The Region is one of a handful that, like Brockville, has such a provision running counter to the HTA, common sense and prevailing practices. 

The debate at the Region’s Planning & Works Committee of Council was quite interesting.  Staff had been studying various updates to the traffic and parking by-law. After consultation with public and stakeholders several changes were being recommended:

  • Permitting adults to cycle on sidewalks when supervising children also cycling.
  • Permitting scooters, skateboards and roller blades, as viable forms of active transportation, to use sidewalks.
  • Retaining the prohibition on cycling two abreast.

In discussion and debate on the two abreast prohibition which had been in place for many years, it was noted that:

  • Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) has no record of ever laying a charge for this behaviour.
  • WRPS sees no need to pursue enforcement of such restriction.
  • Cycling clubs tend to be smart and use common sense in deciding when to ride single file and when to ride two abreast.
  • It’s possible to ride two abreast in 1.5m bike lanes with no encroachment into the adjacent travel lane.
  • The Highway Traffic Act does not prohibit riding two abreast.
  • Several councilors did not support having a by-law at odds with the HTA and prevailing practice, nor having a by-law with no intent of enforcement.
  • Several councilors voiced support for simplification and allowing the HTA to reign on such matters.

Accordingly, the motion was amended to strike from the by-law the prohibition on riding two abreast.  The motion passed and now goes to full council for ratification.

It’s time for Brockville to fall in line and remove this prohibition too.  Very few know that the prohibition is in the Traffic By-Law, it’s not enforced, and it runs counter to prevailing practice, common sense and the HTA (which in itself can create undue risk through confusion).

For those not aware of how cycling groups ride defensively, including riding two abreast, check out the Ottawa Bicycle Club’s educational pieces, some of the best around, here and here.

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.