Traffic bylaw change gets council OK

Maple Ridge will be like the rest of B.C. in not allowing cycling on sidewalks

Maple Ridge council gave third reading Tuesday to a bylaw change that would stop cycling on city sidewalks, as is the case in the rest of B.C.

But it doesn’t mean parents and kids will be ticketed if they’re rolling down the sidewalk on two wheels.

Council isn’t going after everyone cycling on sidewalks, Mayor Mike Morden said Thursday. “Our intent is to get around a problem that we’ve had for many years, that we don’t conform with the same provincial act as everybody else does,” Morden said.

The decision includes comments from a previous meeting that said the city won’t target safe use of the sidewalks but will focus on reckless behaviour.

“Nobody ever said you can’t ride on the sidewalk. They didn’t say it before and they aren’t going to say it in the future,” Morden said at council. The city has to set priorities that says bylaws and police enforcement won’t be targeting safe users of the sidewalk, he added.

Moms or children are not going to get a ticket for riding on the sidewalk, Morden added. “It hasn’t happened and it won’t.

“This is about respect and it’s about respectful engagement on our sidewalks and our roadways. It’s about good behaviour, so it’s not just on our sidewalks,” Morden said.

The change will ensure Maple Ridge fits with the rest of the region and allow future regulations for micro-mobility devices, such as scooters, and ride sharing, Morden added.

Maple Ridge changed its Highway and Traffic bylaw in 2009 to allow safe cycling on sidewalks.

But since then, the downtown has become more crowded, noted a staff report.

Couns. Chelsa Meadus and Kiersten Duncan voted against the change at council’s Tuesday meeting.

Cyclists should continue to be allowed on sidewalks, “Because we simply don’t have the cycling infrastructure for them to be safely on our roads,” said Duncan.

Duncan added that while the intent is to focus on reckless cyclists, technically, bylaw officers or police, shouldn’t be picking or choosing who gets ticketed.

Two years ago, the city’s transportation advisory committee recommended banning cyclists on only four major sidewalks in the downtown but council opted for a city-wide ban, with the stipulation that safe use of sidewalks won’t be targeted.

Meadus said she rides on the sidewalks because Maple Ridge’s cycling network is not connected. “And until it’s connected, it becomes challenging to say you shouldn’t ride on the sidewalk.

“I feel like we’re changing the rules for a small group of people,” Meadus said.

Robson though said that he’s almost been hit five times by bicycles on sidewalks, saying that the problem is getting any kind of enforcement.

Coun. Ryan Svendsen said that no one believes that police in other cities are ticketing responsible riders or families or kids for riding on sidewalks. “And I believe no one believes anyone will be doing that in Maple Ridge.”

Morden said the city’s transportation committee can look at long-term cycling policies.

Later, when the bylaw change gets fourth reading, staff will work out a communications plan so people know about the intent of the changes.

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