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BLOG (Rachelle Niemela): Good News Re Ontario Cycling!

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

There are a number of really great things that are happening in the realms of support and legislation for cycling in Ontario. As cyclists, we need to be aware of these initiatives as they provide us with tools to ensure safe cycling in our city.

Support from Glen Murray, provincial Minister of Transportation

During the last week of May 2013, the Share the Road Coalition hosted the 2013 Ontario Bike Summit in Toronto.Glen Murray, the provincial Minister of Transportation, was the keynote speaker on May 29 and spoke to a crowd of roughly 200 cyclists and cycling advocates on the importance of active transportation both for the health of residents and to help combat gridlock.

He stated that the Ontario Cycling Strategy (which was just released this year), is in need of improvement to make cycling a safer and more attractive transportation option. “When I became minister, I looked at the Ontario Bike Policy and I knew we could do a lot better.” The SCU provided a comprehensive response to the Strategy when it was released for comments, and we felt that it could definitely be a better guiding document for cycling. In fact, the government received over 1115 submissions with over 3000 comments during the open submission period that ended in January 2013.The ministry has never seen such a volume of responses over any other issue.

Mr. Murray, who is an avid cyclist, also wants to make Ontario a world-class cycling destination and wants our cities to be more progressive and bike friendly. He stated that cycling should become more of a priority when it comes to planning matters and it is essential in creating complete communities.These are good words indeed, and will hopefully mean that the government of Ontario will help fund cycling infrastructure and education programs in municipalities.

His best quote: “By Sept. 1, we will have a comprehensive cycling program.”

The Share the Road Coalition typically posts Bike Summit presentations to its site and we will post this information once it is available.

One metre passing rule

At the Ontario Bike Summit, Mr. Murray also stated he was in favour of an enforceable one-metre separation between cyclists and passing motorists, something that is critical to enforcing safety for cyclists on Sudbury streets and roads. When the province will pass this rule hasn’t yet been identified.

The Office Chief Coroner of Ontario’s (OCCO) in his report Cycling Death Review (2012) points out that two-thirds of fatal cycling collisions occurred in urban centres. The Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario identified that attempts by motorists to pass cyclists with insufficient passing room was responsible for the majority of cycling deaths reviewed between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2010.  The Chief Coroner of Ontario’s recommendation is that an effective safe passing guideline of 1 metre between vehicles and cyclists be implemented. This rule is sorely needed in Sudbury as passing too closely is one of the more common problems experienced by cyclists on our roads.

You can read the report here: Cycling Death Review

Other cities are not waiting for the province to act. Councillors in Toronto have tabled a motion to implement an amendment to their Municipal Code to include a one (1) metre/three (3) foot passing rule for vehicles when passing cyclists; and that the amendment be repealed when a corresponding Provincial action has been taken. The motion was referred to their Executive Committee and has not yet been discussed, but it is an indication that cities can take ownership of cycling-related safety issues while waiting for the province to act. In fact, Toronto had previously implemented a “Pass Bikes Safely” campaign to educate motorists –  something that would be greatly appreciated by cyclists in Sudbury.

The picture below is from a video that one our of SCU members took while riding on Municipal Road 80 from the Valley to Sudbury in early June. A slurry truck passed too closely to him and his post on our Facebook site caused a flurry of comments from others who have experienced similar occurrences.

Safe passing

One metre paved shoulder on provincial highways

Other good news is that on May 29, 2013, Norm Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, re-introduced his private member’s bill that would require a minimum one-metre paved shoulder on designated provincial highways that are to be rebuilt or resurfaced.

This is the third time that he has introduced a paved shoulders bill. In 2010 Bill 100 passed 2nd reading with all party support. In the fall of 2011, Norm introduced similar legislation, Bill 9, which passed first reading, but was removed from the Order Paper when the Provincial Legislature was prorogued this past October.

Studies have shown that paved shoulders have a positive effect by increasing opportunities for cycling tourism, while at the same time drastically reducing the occurrence of recreation-related accidents on highways.

While driving on paved shoulders is currently illegal under the Highway Traffic Act, Glen Murray has indicated that he is supportive of changing the act to allow cyclists to legally ride on the shoulders.

If this bill passes, it means that most provincial highways will automatically get paved shoulders when they are rebuilt or resurfaced. This is great news for Sudbury as many of our provincial roads sorely need this safety measure.

The picture below is of a Sudbury cyclist on Manitoulin Island’s Highway 6 during their 3rd Annual Manitoulin Passage Ride which runs from Espanola to South Baymouth. The majority of the highway has wide paved shoulders and is beginning to make the Island a well-known cycling tourist destination.


New Drivers Handbooks

The Ministry of Transportation has announced new drivers’ handbooks, expected to go to print shortly. The handbooks include expanded information on cycling safety. The information we have is that the current 1/2 page that deals with cyclists will be expanded to 2 full pages.

Ontario Traffic Manual Book 18: Bicycle Facilities

This manual, which is part of the Ontario Traffic Manual Series published by the Ontario Traffic Council (OTC), provides practical guidance and design information for traffic engineering, operations and management of roads for the province and its municipalities. A committee of the OTC has been working on this manual for a few years, and its goal is to provide a new standard for bicycle facilities in Ontario based on best practice, while providing innovative solutions to implementing the facilities.

The final draft is now out, and you can read it here: Book 18: Bicycle Facilities

A note that our current Director of Roads and Transportation, David Shelsted, is on that Committee. Mr. Shelsted also sits on the Sustainable Mobility Advisory Panel.

We hope that the 2012 Transportation Study review, which we will see for the first time next Thursday at an open house, will champion proper cycling infrastructure in Sudbury. We encourage all cyclists to attend the open house  at Tom Davies Square, 200 Brady Street, from 4 to 7 pm on June 19, 2013.

Funding for Georgian Bay Cycling Route feasibility study 

The Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) has been approved a grant from the Minister of  Tourism, Culture and Sport for a feasibility study to complete the proposed 900-kilometer Georgian Bay Cycling route which includes Sudbury as a destination. This world-class cycling route would bring many cycling tourists to Sudbury and would provide us with some great economic benefits. Sudbury needs to get ready for these opportunities by building additional cycling infrastructure. Let’s hope that City Council will act as visionaries this year and start building infrastructure that will encourage cycling tourists to stay in Sudbury during their tours and spend money here.

Georgian Bay Cycling Route

You can read more at the MICA site: Georgian Bay Cycling Route

Complete Streets

In early May, 2013 Toronto City Council adopted a motion to scope the development of Complete Streets Guidelines for the City of Toronto. The guidelines will help ensure that Complete Streets are routinely considered during the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of all City streets.

When such guidelines are released, Toronto will be following the lead of other Canadian cities championing Complete Streets, including Edmonton and Calgary, who have both released draft Complete Streets Guidelines. Many prominent U.S. cities have also released similar guidelines, including Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.

The SCU is advocating that Complete Streets be incorporated into our new Official Plan and will be watching closely to see if the City moves forward in this direction.

For more information, see here: Toronto and Complete Streets


This was originally posted on the Sudbury Cyclists website.

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About the Sudbury Working Group

The Sudbury working-group of The Media Co-op was formed to create independent media in the North, to speak to our issues and outlooks on our communities as well as the world around us. Independent media provides an avenue for people who are wishing to gain critical perspective on the issues that matter most to us, and to give a voice to those people and stories that you won't find in the mainstream media.

The Sudbury working-group site is no longer being updated and has been archived.