The following is a 1987 report by the Toronto City Cycling Committeeto City Council regarding the licensing and registration of couriers andother cyclists.
To: City Services Committee
September 15, 1987
The City Cycling Committee agrees with the City Services Committee thatblatant disregard for the rules of the road by many bicycle couriers isa serious problem. A registration program for bicycle couriers may be partof the solution. However, further investigation is necessary into the feasibilityof a bicycle courier registration program before the Cycling Committeewill support the City Services Committee's Recommendation No. 1, that theMetropolitan Licensing Commission be requested to introduce a program forregistration of all bicycle couriers.
The City Cycling Committee's main area of concern is enforcement. Thesuccessful introduction of such a registration program is dependent ona commitment by the Metropolitan Police Department that compliance withthe proposed registration program can and will be fully enforced. Withoutthis commitment the program will not be successful. The Cycling Committeerecommends the Metropolitan Licensing Commission be requested to investigatethe feasibility of a bicycle courier registration program and that theprogram be introduced only if enforcement can and will be fully implemented.
Enforcement for couriers alone will not solve the problem. Many cyclistsdisregard the rules because they know they can get away with it. It isrelatively rare for a cyclist to be ticketed in the City of Toronto Oneof the main reasons for this lack of enforcement is that cyclists are notrequired to identify themselves when stopped by the police for a trafficoffence. Increased enforcement for all cyclists is needed.
The City Cycling Committee fully supports the City Services Committee'sRecommendation No. 2 that Council advise the Hon. Ed Fulton, Minister ofTransportation and Communications, of its support for the introductionof legislation to require cyclists to identify themselves to police shouldthey be asked to do so and if police suspect that the cyclist has brokenthe law. Ministry staff have advised us that both the Attorney Generaland the Solicitor General must be involved in such an amendment to theHighway Traffic Act because it may require changes in the provincial OffendersAct. City Council should also be requested to advise the Attorney Generaland the Solicitor General of its support for introduction of this legislation.
At its meetings of August 10 and 14, 1987 City Council gave considerationto Clause 12 contained in Report No. 15 of the City Services Committee,entitled "Registration of Bicycle Couriers and Legislation for Cyclists".Council referred this Clause back to the City Services Committee for commentfrom the City Cycling Committee and subsequent report to City Council bythe end of September 1987.
The City Services Committee made the following recommendations in Clause12 contained in Report No. 15:
1. The Metropolitan Licensing Commission be requested to introduce aprogram for the registration of all bicycle couriers and which would requirethat such couriers carry an identification plate on the bicycle clearlyvisible to the public.
2. Council advise the Honourable Ed Fulton, Minister of Transportationand Communications, of its support for the introduction of legislationto require cyclists to identify themselves to police should they be askedto do so and if the police suspect that the cyclist has broken the law.
At its meeting of September 1, 1987 the City Cycling Committee consideredthe above recommendations and makes the following comments and recommendations.
A. Introduction of a Bicycle Courier Registration Program
Further investigation is necessary to determine if a bicycle courierregistration program is feasible in the City of Toronto. The City CyclingCommittee's main area of concern is enforcement. The City of New York implementeda registration program for bicycle couriers a few years ago which was totallyineffective. The New York program failed because it had no enforcementmechanism. There were no fines or penalties which could be levied againstoffending couriers or their companies. Most couriers did not comply withthe program.
Effective enforcement is absolutely essential to the success of a bicyclecourier registration program. It would be meaningless to introduce sucha program without prior assurance that it can and would be fully enforced.
The Metropolitan Police Department should be asked to comment on thefollowing three enforcement issues:
1. Will an identification plate attached to the bicycle, clearly visibleto the public, increase enforcement?
This suggests that the public will play a major role in enforcement.Will the police be able to press charges against couriers based on reportsfrom the public? Past experience indicates that police will still needto witness traffic violations by licensed couriers in order to ticket them.
On the other hand, an identification plate attached to the bike andclearly visible to the public could assist the public in identifying offendingcyclists in hit and run cases. In the absence of a Highway Traffic Actamendment to require cyclists to identify themselves to police, a courieridentification plate could assist police to identify couriers they haveapprehended.
2. Can the police ensure that all bicycle couriers comply with licensingrequirements?
In the City of New York all bicycle couriers were required to attacha sign to their bicycle displaying their company's name and their identificationnumber. Couriers simply did not comply with this because there was no enforcement.It will not be an easy task to ensure that all bicycle couriers complywith licensing requirements in Toronto.
There is only one bicycle courier company in Toronto. For many of theirriders, being a bicycle courier is a full-time, year-round job. There arealso many other courier companies who add a few bike couriers for the summermonths. There is a high turnover rate among these casual bike couriers.They are often on the road for two weeks or less and are probably lesslikely to comply with licensing requirements than the full-time professionalbicycle couriers. For the proposed registration program to be enforcedfairly all bicycle couriers and their companies must comply.
3. How will police prove that a cyclist is operating as a courier withouta license?
Police must be able and willing to fine couriers, and the companies,who do not comply with licensing requirements. First the police must beable to prove that a cyclist is operating as a courier without a license.To prove that a taxi driver is operating without a license the Metro LicensingCommission must follow the driver and witness a fare being dropped off/pickedup and money changing hands. It may be more difficult to prove that a cyclistis operating as a courier without a license.
Enforcement aside, the City is also concerned about how the registrationprogram will work. Will the cyclist or the company be responsible for obtainingthe appropriate courier licenses? Appendix A, "NewYork Police Regulations Governing Bicycles Used For Commercial Purposes"outlines some of the logistics that will need to be considered in establishinga registration program
One potentially positive benefit of a registration program is that bicyclecourier applicants could be required to attend a training session or, atthe very least, pass a written exam. This could ensure knowledge of therules of the road for all couriers.
The City Cycling Committee feels that there is insufficient informationat this time to recommend that the Metropolitan Licensing Committee introducea registration program for bicycle couriers. Further investigation is necessaryrespecting the feasibility of the program, especially concerning enforcements.
It should also be made very clear that the proposed registration programwould require bicycle couriers to obtain a license as commercial operators,not a license for their bicycles. This license should be easily transferrablefrom bike to bike, as professional bicycle couriers generally use morethan one bike. Licensing of bicycles or licensing of non-commercial cyclistsis not supported by the City Cycling Committee at this time. The 1985 Conferenceon Cycling and the Law concluded that licensing of bicycles or cyclistswas not a cost-effective method of improving cyclist skills and behaviour.This can be more effectively accomplished through education and enforcement.
B. Legislation for Cyclists
There are probably no more than 200 bicycle couriers during the busiestsummer months. They account for only a small percentage of adult cyclistsin the City. While it may be true that their disregard for traffic rulesencourages other cyclists to do the same, they are certainly not the onlysource of concern. Increased education and enforcement for all cyclistsis important if we are to increase their compliance with traffic rulesand reduce the number of car/bike and bike/pedestrian conflicts in theCity. The City Cycling Committee has made cyclist education its numberone priority for the past three years. The success of our education programis limited by the lack of enforcement. The introduction of legislationto require cyclists to identify themselves to police will enable more effectiveenforcement.
At its meeting of February 11, 1985 City Council endorsed the City CyclingCommittee's recommendation that cyclists be required to identify themselvesto police officers and advised the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto,the Government of Ontario and the Association of Municipalities of Ontarioof their endorsation. Twelve other Ontario municipalities have also requestedthe Hon. Ed Fulton, Minister of Transportation and Communications to introducelegislation requiring cyclists to identify themselves to police.
Planning and Development Department staff and the City Cycling Committeehave met with the Hon. Ed Fulton, Minister of Transportation and Communications,to request the appropriate Highway Traffic Act amendment. Following severalmeetings with the Ministry's Safety Policy Co-ordination Office we wereinformed that staff recommendations were made to the Minister and finaldecision rests with the Cabinet. We were hoping for the introduction oflegislation in the fall but the provincial election has postponed that.
Ministry staff have also informed the Cycling Committee that introductionof this legislation will require the co-operation of the Attorney Generaland the Solicitor General because it may involve changes to the ProvincialOffences Act. The Attorney General and the Solicitor General should alsobe informed of City Council's support for the introduction of legislationto require cyclists to identify themselves.
In consultation with the Planning and Development Department, Ministryof Transportation and Communications,'Sun Wheel Bicycle Courier Companyand the New York City Bicycle Coordinator, the City Cycling Committee,recommends:
1. That the Metropolitan Licensing Commission, in consultation withthe City Cycling Committee, be requested to investigate a program for theregistration of all bicycle couriers, and that such a program be implementedonly if enforcement can and will be fully implemented.
2. That City Council advise the Hon. Ed Fulton, Minister of Transportationand Communications of its support for the introduction of legislation torequire cyclists to identify themselves to police should they be askedto do so and if the police suspect that the cyclist has broken the law.
3. That recommendation No. 2 also be forwarded to the Attorney Generaland the Solicitor General of Ontario.
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