Friday, December 16, 2011

Council Divided on Shared Use - Daily Gleaner Fredericton

City councillor Stephen Kelly will get his wish granted for a city hall staff review of shared use for city sidewalks, but support for the in-house study came reluctantly from council colleagues.

Kelly and Coun. Stephen Chase are at odds when it comes to who should get to use public sidewalks.

Chase wants bicycles on city streets, on trails or in designated bicycle lanes, not on the sidewalk. He has argued for more enforcement to drive cyclists to downtown streets.

But Kelly said for nearly half a century, people have ridden bicycles on city sidewalks with relatively few conflicts with pedestrians.

Chase doesn't agree.

Kelly wants to go a step further and consider allowing skateboarders and people who use inline skates to share the sidewalk with pedestrians.

"People of all ages have used sidewalks for various reasons for convenience and safety," Kelly said.

"As a councillor over the past 10 years, I haven't had very many people tell me they have issues with people using the sidewalks - with certain restrictions. "

With the city moving in the direction of going green and being much more active, and with 240 kilometres of sidewalks in the city and $32 million invested in them, Kelly said the sidewalks should be used and can be shared the same way city walking trails are shared by walkers and bicyclists.

Kelly would like to see the idea researched and reported back to the committee by spring.

"I have some concerns with that," Chase responded. "First of all, we've spent a lot of money installing bicycle routes along the sides of streets and promoting bicycle routes, and I think there's further plans to create more bicycle routes.

"It's good to see people on bicycles and to see them using them in a safe way, using their helmets ... but the concern that I have is that bicycles are regulated under the Motor Vehicle Act and they are, in fact, a vehicle."

Chase said sidewalks are intended for pedestrians and are used by people in wheelchairs.

The councillor said he's not adverse to looking into Kelly's ideas, but is satisfied with existing law and policy which generally works well.

Coun. Scott McConaghy said children who are learning to ride bicycles should be on sidewalks, and generally there's little disagreement in residential areas.

McConaghy said he wouldn't want to drive bicyclists back onto city sidewalks.

"I think it's something we can take a look at," said Coun. Tony Whalen.

He said he's OK with young kids on bicycles on city sidewalks, but not older riders.


  1. When it comes to bicycles, the LAW states that cyclists are bound to the same rules and responsibilities as motorists and therefore it is ILLEGAL to be on sidewalks. Just because cyclists take up less room than a motorist, that does not give us the right to go where we please. A Smart car takes up less room than a delivery truck, but does that give the driver any special rights and/or privileges?

  2. I full on agree! If they want bicycles off the sidewalks, they need better infrastructure downtown.

  3. I am a cyclist. Bikes belong on streets not sidewalks. Automobile operators need to become more cognizant and respectful of cyclists and vice versa. The presence of cyclists on streets will likely be acknowledged more so than cyclists on sidewalks who are just outside a driver's peripheral vision when an automobile is entering or exiting a driveway or intersection. Traffic calming measures, better cycling infrastructure and increased automobile and bicycle operator education are key to this issue. Sidewalks are no place for bikes.