The Ottawa media chooses
to describe cyclists as "outlaw cyclists." Sometimes they may use the
word reckless but when it's time for a crack down on motorists it's
often referred to as a "cash grab" where motorists are perceived as
Cops handing out tickets,
warnings to cyclists not following rules of
Ottawa Sun, June 25, 2008
By Beth Johnston
Ottawa police are stopping outlaw cyclists after an elderly man was
knocked down by one who was riding illegally on a Pretoria Bridge
sidewalk last week.
Constables Steven Lewis and David Zackrias were downtown yesterday
handing out warnings, fines and information pamphlets to cyclists
breaking a myriad of rules.
Bicycle courier Jon Watt was riding on a Queen St. sidewalk chatting on
his cellphone just after noon, when Zackrias waved him over.
"I didn't think I was doing anything wrong, cruising very slowly here,
I am not posing a danger to anybody," he said, explaining he thought it
was legal to ride on the extra-wide sidewalk.
As for the cellphone, he didn't realize, by law, you have to have two
hands on your handlebars at all times.
"I almost get killed every day by a driver talking on the phone. If I'm
on the phone I am not going to kill anybody I am not at the wheel of a
deadly weapon. I am a vehicle under the traffic act, but it's kind of
"Rules are rules," Zackrias reminded him as Lewis handed him a few
written warnings, including one for riding a bike without a horn.
"Thanks for being a sport about it, it's for your own safety," Lewis
told him before he rode off to deliver his now-late package. Now that
they know who he is, they won't be so likely to let him go next time,
About half of the city's cyclists are breaking the rules, some because
they're ignorant of them, others, such as courier Gary Watson, openly
"Yes I do, absolutely. I break the law knowing full well what the law
is," he said. "I circumvent (it) as much as I can."
It seems everyone has a strong opinion on cyclists and their place on
Police are bombarded with complaints from pedestrians who've been
sideswiped by cyclists on sidewalks, but then told to "leave them
alone" as they ticket them.
A lot of cyclists tell the officers they're riding on the sidewalk
because they're scared to ride on the road. But if you follow the rules
of the road, you should be fine, Zackrias said.
"They jeopardize the safety of people walking on the sidewalk," he said.
If you're pulled over, watch your attitude -- police have a choice to
ticket you either under a city bylaw or under the Motor Vehicle Act
where you can lose points from your driver's licence.
The officers also plan to target the Sparks St. pedestrian mall where
cyclists aren't permitted to ride at all but shop owners have been
complaining about them. Cyclists not bothering to get off and walk over
Pretoria Bridge during the morning and evening commute can expect to be