Becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community

June 20, 2008

Healthy Environment

There have been way too many bicycle accidents so far this year in Guelph.

There is a good editorial on this in a recent issue of the Ontarion at:

Council has recently approved a Bicycle-Friendly Guelph Project developed by our Transportation Demand Management Coordinator, Jennifer McDowell.

This is an excerpt from the report that went to Council that outlines the key elements of the plan.

Bicycle Transportation Plan

The proposal to develop a bicycle transportation plan for Guelph is based on a review of the best practices in bicycle friendly cities across North America and Europe.  The review was undertaken by staff with consulting assistance provided by Mpower Business Guides. 

The best practices review indicates that a high modal share of cycling and the perception of safety and convenience in cycling is the direct result of integrating the practices of engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation.  The review also notes the role of the Bicycle Transportation Advisory Committee comprising municipal, stakeholder and industry representatives in the development and implementation of a bicycle transportation plan.

Based on this review and the need for community consultation, staff are recommending the establishment of a Bicycle Transportation Advisory Committee (BTAC) in Guelph to assist with developing and implementing the proposed bicycle transportation plan. The membership of the proposed BTAC will include:

  • City staff (from Engineering, Traffic, Planning and Transit)
  • Representatives from bicycle user groups or stakeholders
  • Representatives from bicycle industry group
  • Community representatives
  • Representatives from environmental groups / stakeholders
  • Representatives from health and education sectors
  • Police Services

The purpose of the Bicycle Transportation Advisory Committee is to:

·         represent the views of various user groups in the community

·         assist in identifying weaknesses and gaps in the existing network, facilities, and implementation program

·         provide input to developing Guelph’s bicycle transportation plan and supporting programs

·         assist in implementing the programs and initiatives from the final plan


The development of the bicycle plan will include the following principal tasks:

  • Inventory and base mapping of existing physical infrastructure and facilities
  • Survey of public and user perceptions of cycling in Guelph
  • Identify specific user groups and their needs
  • Identify spatial desire lines for cycling based on land use distribution
  • Develop a bicycle network plan comprising both on-road and off-road facilities corresponding to user needs and cycling desire lines
  • Identify supportive programs based on user needs, e.g. workplace amenities, bicycle parking, bike racks on buses etc.
  • Establish design and safety standards for facilities and users
  • Develop education and outreach programs targeting users, community, institutions and employers
  • Establish cycling modal share targets, where possible by areas and user groups
  • Develop an implementation and monitoring plan

The development of the bicycle transportation plan will be completed within one year and presented to Council for approval in April 2009.




About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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11 Comments on “Becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community”

  1. Lloyd Longfield Says:

    Bicycling in Guelph is definitely a “two way street”, with responsibility for safety coming from cyclists and from drivers. Cyclists need to understand traffic laws apply to them, no doubt about it. Red lights are red lights, sidewalks aren’t to drive on, etc. And cyclists need to pedal as if they are invisible to traffic, because often they are. On the other side, drivers taking the habits from the 401 into the City need to have traffic laws enforced on them. Passing on the right, and adding 20km/h to the posted speed limit are two things we need less of in Guelph. Many cities have a policy of zero tolerance, and everyone visiting is warned going in. Calgary doesn’t suffer from photo radar or red light cameras, and in neighbourhoods you know going 5km/h over the limit will cost you. It would be great to see the enforcement start on Victoria and the Hanlon: starting with a “Welcome to Guelph – you can slow down now” sign.

  2. Sarah Ivy Says:

    I’d recommend checking out this video from a social marketing campaign in the UK:

    I think it does a good job at highlighting the fact that drivers are liable to hit cyclists simply because they aren’t looking for them. It would be interesting to see what campaign Guelph could put together to highlight this point.

    Also, to Lloyd’s point above, I totally agree! Cyclists need to take responsibility for their safety as well. The only time I’ve ever seen a bike-car accident (and I’ve seen several this year) has been when cyclists have been riding on a sidewalk. Cars pull out of driveways and parking lots and are looking to the car traffic on the street.. and not for fast moving traffic on the sidewalk…

  3. Alexandra Barlow Says:

    While I agree that both cyclists and drivers share the responsibility for their safe coexistence I believe it is important to note that too often it is the driver who is not looking or driving carelessly. Bikers are often more aware since they lack the protection and insulation that a car offers. As an active commuting and road-cyclist I have been in many situations where a car has turned right/left etc carelessly in front of me – potentially causing a serious accident (for me!). Drivers need to remember that cyclists do not have the brakes, insulation or protection that their car offers.

    In addition to my bicycle, I also own a car. I often see people riding their bicycles on the sidewalk and it has never happened to me that I have not seen them coming when pulling out of an intersection or driveway. I completely understand why people bicycle on the sidewalk, since the roads are dangerous. A co-worker of mine was bicycling along the sidewalk and was hit – when the police arrived the officer told her he did not blame her for bicycling on the sidewalk. ALL CARS should be looking at on-coming road traffic and SIDEWALK traffic – what if that fast-moving object on the sidewalk that you did not see was not a bike but a child?

    We rush too much – take a moment, check your blind spots, don’t use your cell phone when operating a vehicle, keep your eyes open, take time to make eye contact and respect others on the road – that goes for drivers and cyclists.

  4. Doug Says:

    The following is taken from the MTO website and gives expected behavior for bike riders.

    Sidewalk cycling is very dangerous. Many collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles occur where sidewalks, driveways and parking lot access become unexpected intersections. Make sure you know and obey your local by-laws concerning sidewalk riding.

    When riding on shared bike/walking paths cyclists should:

    * Ride at a slow speed.
    * Use your bell or horn to signal your presence when approaching pedestrians from behind.
    * Be ready to stop and allow pedestrians to cross.
    * Stop before every intersection and look all ways for cars.
    * Watch for cars entering or exiting from driveways/laneways.
    * Walk your bike across a crosswalk (it is illegal to ride across a crosswalk).

    I have seen far too many cases where riders completely ignore traffic regulations, signs, stop lights and anything else that might interrupt their life. Nothing is ever done. The police have probably been told “hands off” . Why? Because these people are trying to save the planet. The rules don’t apply to them.
    Here’s a tip.
    If you can’t or won’t obey the rules of the road ( all of them) then keep your toys in the yard.

  5. Mike Wisniewski Says:

    Anything you could do to make Guelph more bike-friendly would be appreciated Your Worship.

    I like to try to bike into “the big city” once or twice a year from Fergus.

    I was just in town on Thursday past. It was a good day all-in-all

    Bye for now

  6. Tim Says:


    You could say the exact same for motorists. Flagrant abuse of the law on all sides. Alot of people who use the roadways break traffic regulations … motorists and cyclists.

    Your gross generalizations and over simplifications concerning police/cyclist interactions are inaccurate and ridiculous.

    Your reference (I am assuming) to bicycles as toys is ridiculous as well.

    All people need to respect the rules of the road. Period. Cyclists need to respect cars and more importantly motorists need to realize that they can quite easily kill cyclists.

    Has it really come to that just because an individual is on a bicycle their life is worth less? Sometimes I worry about society.

  7. Doug Says:

    Nobody would ever suggest that one life is less valuable than another.
    The fact that I have seen cyclists riding through red lights and stop signs is something that motorists rarely get away with and the penalties are severe.
    Cars are, for the most part, not seen driving down the sidewalk, past the sign which states “NO CYCLING ON ANY SIDEWALK”!
    And just as a point of interest, cyclists can quite easily kill small children or seniors on the sidewalk.
    Respect is a two way street.
    But not if you ride a bike.

  8. Meg Says:

    Hi folks,

    I am reporting in here from my point of view as a motorist.

    Not that I don’t like cyclists: I am one myself and I believe that cycling as a mode of transport is to be lauded and facilitated.

    But as a motorist who is a physician, I have had too many heart stopping moments at cross walks involving a car and a bike, typically from the vantage point of second car in line at the stop as I witness yet another bloody scene narrowly missed thanks only to the grace of God. The odds are high that the imagined blood in these moments-of-suspended-breath is that of the cyclist.

    If you, the cyclist on the sidewalk, are about to enter a crosswalk, stopping to dismount and walk across has a lot going for it… and for your soft and precious body.

    And to those helmet-less cyclists that run red lights through crosswalks in busy morning traffic ….

    words fail me, but I doubt that you are among those reading this anyway.

    I can only hope that for your own sake, somewhere out there is a police officer who will fine you when he sees you doing this.

  9. Alexandra Barlow Says:

    While I understand the feelings of motorists, I would like to recount something that just happened to me about an hour ago.

    I was cycling through the Canadian Tire parking lot and I came to a stop sign, stopped, saw the way was clear and turned left. A black ford ranger did the down and across from me, but he turned about 10 seconds after me. This resulted in him clearly cutting me off. I ride with clip pedals, meaning my feet are fairly well secured in the pedals, so I can’t put my feet down instantly in an emergency.

    I braked quickly and called out the the man driving that I am also a vehicle, much like any motorist would have honked their horn. At which point the man slammed on his brakes and I nearly ran into the back of him (I was already quite close seeing as he cut me off). He asked me what I said to him – I said that I am also considered a vehicle and that he cut me off – and that he needs to be more careful!

    His response? “Shut your mouth.”

    And then he drove away.

    Now, I realize that this is probably not the typical Guelphian response (I certainly hope not, or I am going to drive more) but situations like this, with perhaps more polite encounters, have happened to me ALOT – and I obey the rules of the road.

    The truth is that the city is built for cars, not bikes, thus many cyclists find themselves afraid to bike on the road or they find themselves in situations like mine today where careless and sometimes rude motorists endanger their lives. Yes – it is the responsibility of both but motorists need to remember that they are bigger, insulated and that we do not have these two benefits, on top of having a much less responsive vehicle – which makes us more vulnerable.

    I obey the rules because I go fast on my bike (aka 30kms/hour) and commute often in high traffic. Most importantly, I obey the rules because I want to be in the right if something ever happens to me while bicycling. That’s quite sad, if you think about it, that the main reason I follow the rules, and bike on the road, etc, is because when a motorist hits me I want to be the one who was doing the right thing.

    As for cyclists on the sidewalk, I don’t blame them. Their scared, and they have good reason to be. I have never ever heard of a senior or child being hit by a bicyclist and I would be wary of making such a claim without proof – especially since we allow people with disabilities or reduced mobility ride motorized scooters on the sidewalk!

    Crosswalks are an interesting debate – it’s not required to dismount for them, and if its your turn to go – why should you? I certainly do not condone running red lights or crossing unsafely.

    For any cyclists in situations like mine – I would suggest what I did not do (because I was angry). Take down the license plate of the motorist and report him or her to police. They will make a report and head to the individuals house and fine them.

    As for drivers, I would encourage you to talk to bicyclists who cut you off etc by stopping and calling out to them. The only way to really get anywhere on this is to engage with each other.

  10. Jennifer McDowell Says:

    It is great to see such a healthy discussion on this blog posting about cycling! One of the most common themes seems to be what rules of the road apply to cyclists.

    As a utilitarian cyclist myself, I know it can be tempting to disobey rules of the road that were made for cars, but it is very important to keep in mind that these rules help drivers predict the behaviour of other road users, including cyclists. Most accidents happen as a result of unexpected behaviours such as a fast-moving cyclist on a sidewalk or crosswalk.

    Following the rules of the road means your behaviour is predictable and expected by other road users. This means stopping at stop signs, staying on the road, signaling your intentions, obeying traffic signals, etc. Cars do not use sidewalks, and neither should cyclists unless they dismount and walk. This is not to inconvenience cyclists, but to protect them and unsuspecting drivers from painful encounters.

    Cyclists should stay tuned for constant improvements to our cycling network in Guelph as we design and implement the Bicycle-Friendly Guelph plan in the coming years. It is our goal to make cycling a safe, enjoyable and convenient experience for all users in Guelph through proper networks, education, encouragement and enforcement.

  11. Jim Says:

    Taking the approach that cycling should not take place on sidewalks has a huge drawback in that children, too, are forced to ride on the road or not ride at all.

    I recall watching my daughter, at age six and on her little pink bike with white tires, riding down Gordon Street by the University in the bike lane because she told me that it’s “against the law, daddy” to ride on the sidewalk. I watched her ride ahead of me, as cars and trucks wizzed by creating winds that only cyclists can feel. After some frayed nerves (mine and my wife’s), we decided that some rules need to be broken.

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