Law Audit - Ontario Websites

      Inspections of websites carrying safety messages aimed mostly at Ontario cyclists showed many with false advice or misrepresentation of where on a roadway cyclists may legally ride. The Vehicular Cyclist has identified websites of the provincial government, two municipal governments, and a couple of non-profits. In some cases the directions offered, if followed, would put cyclists at risk.

      1. On the Ministry of Transport (MTO) page - Bicycle Safety under Riding on the right - it is stated, "You must stay as close to the right edge of the road whenever possible". Nowhere in Ontario's Highway Traffic Act (HTA) can such a statement be supported. Section 148 Overtaking Rules makes it clear in sub-section (5) that vehicle operators (incl.cyclists) when being passed must drive to the right but are not required to leave more than half of the roadway free. MTO has been requested to modify this aspect of its site but has not responded to or evenacknowledged repeated requests to amend its text. The "Cyclist's MPP" Eleanor McMahon, has also ignored requests to have the text modified.

      2. MTO - Drivers Handbook under Sharing the road with cyclists states that cyclists "travelling at a lower speed than other traffic are expected to ride about one metre from the curb or parked cars, or as close as practical to the right-hand edge of the road when there is no curb". This misrepresents the Slow Vehicles law Section 147 which states, "Any vehicle travelling upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at that time and place shall, where practicable, be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic OR as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway". (OR capitalized for emphasis). First, the word practicable in the law has been written as practical in the website text. They have different meanings. But worse, the author omitted to mention that merely riding "in the right-hand lane then available for traffic" satisfies the requirements of the law without restriction.

      3. City of Ottawa - Cycling Safety under Rules of the road it states, "Cyclists are to ride as close as practicable (i.e., no closer than 1.0 metre) to the right curb of the roadway except when ... Riding alongside another cyclist in a manner that does not impede the normal movement of traffic". The City's first phrase is false for the reason in #1 above. In the case of not impeding "the normal movement of traffic", there is no law governing cyclists. S.132 Unnecessary slow driving applies to MOTOR vehicles only. The City was requested to modify these aspects of its site four years ago but bureaucratic intransigence seems to prevail.

      4. City of Toronto - Sixth diagram on Cycling and the Law depicts a situation with cyclists riding two abreast. All cyclists in this diagram are riding legally in the right lane as required by S.147 and to the right as required by S.148. Toronto abolished its single file by-law in 2013. The City has indicated that it will review this aspect of its site.

      5. Cycle Toronto, an advocacy group, has an on-line Cyclist Handbook. On p.11 under Ride next to a friend, it states "You may ride next to another cyclist and take up an entire traffic lane. If a faster vehicle wishes to pass on the left, you must move into single file". This is blatantly false. There is no requirement to ride single file in the HTA or among City of Toronto by-laws. This group been asked to amend its site but has yet to confirm it plans to do something.

      6. The Canadian Automobile Association on it's national website under The Fundamentals, it instructs cyclists to ride single file. While there may be laws in some Canadian jurisdictions that require cyclists to ride in such a manner, this is not the case for all of Canada. The CAA has indicated that it will review this aspect of its site.

      Relevant sections of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act are,

      S.132 Unnecessary slow driving (ie Impeding traffic) - this applies to MOTOR vehicles only.

      S.147 Slow moving vehicles - this is the only section of the HTA that mentions driving close to the edge of the roadway. On laned roads there is another option however, which is to drive in the right lane. Only if a road is not divided into lanes, eg a dirt road, does driving close to the edge of the roadway become a requirement. On all other roads it is optional.

      S.148(5) On being passed - the person being passed is not obliged to leave more than one half of the roadway free.

      S.148(6) Requires cyclists to turn out to right while being passed - it is silent on where to the right. It does not say a cyclist must ride near edge of road. Turn out to right means not to the left. It is virtually the same wording as 148(2) which applies to all vehicles including cyclists. 148(6) additionally states that the overtaking vehicle has to turn out to the left as far as necessary as to avoid a collision (a redundancy). 148(2) is never interpreted to mean a motor vehicle must be driven near the edge of the road while being passed, so why would it for 148(6)?

October 2017
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