Comment 78484

By John Neary (registered) | Posted June 13, 2012 at 21:14:34

I agree with Undustrial and others that a lot of streets in Hamilton really are unsafe for cyclists, and I am sure that is one of the reasons why so many people cycle on sidewalks. (I've been known to cycle on the sidewalk on Cannon for a block or so if -- as is usual -- there isn't a pedestrian in sight, and if the alternative is a detour that involves crossing Wilson Street twice.)

That being said, there really is no excuse for cycling on the sidewalk on James North. James North is a very cycling-friendly street. I ride there with my son fairly frequently whereas I will not take him on a number of other downtown streets. Using the sidewalk as a cyclist on James North is frankly antisocial.

That being said (reprise), cycling on the sidewalk, although antisocial, doesn't put others at nearly as much risk of bodily harm as any number of things that motorists in Hamilton do every day. (Speeding, running red lights or stop signs, texting or using a cell phone while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving with cognitive or sensory impairment...) Many of these actions are ignored by police and normalized by society.

So yes, we shouldn't defend cycling on the sidewalk. And it is quite likely in this case that the motorist didn't do anything the least bit wrong.

It is also true that the "normal" automobile traffic on Cannon Street poses unnecessary, unconscionable risks to the (few) non-motorized users of that street, which we knew full well before this particular incident.

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