Two city councillors are on opposite sides of the page when it comes to biking on public sidewalks.
Coun. Stephen Chase wants to protect the safety of pedestrians by stepping up police enforcement, but Coun. Stephen Kelly would like to explore ways to allow shared usage of city sidewalks.
Since January to the end of August, the Fredericton Police Force has stepped up its enforcement efforts.
Police Chief Barry MacKnight said under the city's bylaw, tickets can be issued for not wearing helmets while cycling. There were 201 municipal tickets issued for the first half of the year, 19 of which were prosecutions and the rest were written warnings issued by the city's park patrol.
There were 15 municipal bylaw notices issued for riding a bicycle on a sidewalk. Six involved fines.
Under the provincial Motor Vehicle Act, 33 people were handed tickets for riding on the sidewalk or not wearing helmets. Nine were prosecutions.
"Since there is still a pretty high incidence of people riding sidewalks on downtown sidewalks - and I want to emphasize that my concern is downtown where we have a lot of pedestrian traffic, frequently seniors and in some cases the sidewalks are restricted with the (restaurant) terraces in the summer - we should step up our effort with public education or issuing warnings," Chase said.
But Kelly isn't in favour of clamping down on cyclists who use the city sidewalks to get around the downtown.
In fact, he's asking the city's transportation committee chairman, Coun. Bruce Grandy, to let him raise the topic of a sidewalk sharing policy that would embrace not just bicyclists, but also skateboarders and people on inline skates.
"I am not sure how widespread this problem or issue may be, but I am interested in learning more about shared usage of City of Fredericton sidewalks with bikes, boards and blades, and would like to request a staff report that would provide the committee with some background on the subject. In particular, what other cities are doing in our area, any legal issues that we should know about and what staff would see as the pros and cons associated with the issue and possible options and resource requirements if applicable," Kelly said.
"I am not suggesting we would support moving forward on the issue, but I think it's important we have the information we need should we want to go in any particular direction. I realize I am asking our staff to take on another report and they are busy, so perhaps this request could be put in the queue and staff could report back when they have had time to consider the issue."