Bicycling through the Pandemic – A Rant

Its finally 2021 and perhaps (like me) you are trying to set a goal of getting more exercise this year, especially since in the past year many of us have made the transition from going into the office to working from home, and as a result of this (and other factors imposed by the Pandemic) perhaps are not getting as much exercise as we did prior to the Pandemic.

I used to walk home from work everyday, and to try to keep up with this new change to working from the home office more regularly, I have been going on socially distanced walks since the beginning of the pandemic (although admittedly there have been a few months where I really wasn’t getting as many walks in as I should have, but c’est La vie).

Something I have been noticing a lot last year is the increased number of people biking. I imagine, just like myself, people are attempting to get out of the house or office (in many cases they are now the same place) to get some fresh air and exercise and I am all for it!

However, many people on bikes are riding on the sidewalks….without masks. For me this has can be really frustrating, as many times I am walking on the sidewalk only to have individuals on bikes come up from behind me, not only scaring the heck out of me (bells people!), but also passing right next to me on the sidewalk, not wearing a mask.

Not only are they not practicing socially distancing, but riding your bike on the sidewalk its actually illegal. Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, a bicycle is a vehicle, just like a car or truck and as such, must share the road with cars.

An exception to this rule can be found in the Toronto By-Laws which states individuals under the age of 14 may use the sidewalk for biking. So, If you are over the age of 14, the law says you should be using the road.

Luckily, Toronto has been implementing many bike lanes specifically designed for bicyclists (my neighbourhood is filled with them!). However, if being on the road is intimidating to you, Toronto is also filled with many parks and bike trails that you can take full advantage of, in which you can legally cycle and socially distance.

If you are cycling on the sidewalks, please just be mindful of pedestrians and make sure you are taking precautions in order to be able to pass people in a socially distanced manner, especially if you are not wearing a mask.

In these times, where we are all fighting the pandemic as a society and we need to stand together by staying apart.

Please be respectful of each other and stay safe and healthy!

Leah Dickie – Legal Assistant