Ford government to review Ontario’s cycling policy amid surge in e-bikes, scooters

The Progressive Conservative government plans to review the rules of the road for cyclists and a host of electric vehicles in Ontario, but the transportation minister says he “doesn’t see a reason” to re-instate bicycle licences.

With more riders hitting the streets, the province intends to examine Ontario’s cycling policy as part of its subway upload legislation, Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek said Thursday.

“A review would ensure that we have the proper safety, roads, Highway Traffic Act, and other acts that we have to ensure that there’s rules to follow for cyclists and there’s rules to follow for vehicles,” he told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

The bill, introduced Thursday at Queen’s Park, will tackle a range of transportation-related issues.

As part of this legislation, the province will get the wheels turning on the need to regulate electric bikes, scooters and skateboards, all of which are new to Ontario’s transportation network, Yurek said.

These power-assisted modes of travel have all gained popularity in recent years.

But they require cities to amend bylaws and the Ontario Traffic Safety Act. Current laws prohibit the use of off-road vehicles on municipal roads unless the community passes a bylaw to allow for it.

Ontario is not the only province in Canada, however, that currently prevents the use of e-scooters, e-skateboards and e-bikes on its streets. Alberta and B.C. have similar laws on the books.

The main goal of the government review, Yurek explained, is to improve conditions and ensure safe and accessible ways for Ontarians to get around. 

Aims to improve road safety for cyclists

Road safety for cyclists in Toronto has been a hot-button topic for years.

Canada’s most populous city has been criticized by urban planners and cycling advocates for a piecemeal approach to cycling infrastructure, with many saying it lags behind other urban centres across the country.

In 2016, the city of Toronto announced its Vision Zero plan to eliminate road deaths. That same year, city council approved a ten-year cycling network plan aimed at expanding cycling infrastructure through a 525-kilometre bike lane network.

Various bike lane pilot projects have popped up in recent years, from the Adelaide-Richmond cycle tracks to the now-permanent Bloor Street bike lanes, but advocates say other areas are lagging behind.

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