Over the weekend of May 25 and 26, a photo began circulating around social media of a group of cyclists that were not using the new bike lane along Bath Road.
A lot of people expressed anger that the cyclists chose to use the side of the single eastbound traffic lane as opposed to the newly-installed bike lane, which takes up the right-hand traffic lane on the busy stretch of Bath Road. After Kingstonist published an article about charity cycling group 7 Days in May stopping in Kingston on Monday, May 27, 2019, readers were quick to make the connection – the cyclists in the photos shared on social media were wearing the same shirts as those in the photos with our article.
Since the bike lane is new, one of our reporters went out to the site to look for signage – how would cyclists from out of town know the intended purpose of the lane if it has yet to be publicly marked? To be fair, there is one sign indicating the lane is for cyclists, right at the beginning of the lane. Otherwise, there are no signs indicating what the lane is for, nor is it marked with any icons or lines on the actual street.
According to the City of Kingston, that’s because a lot of that work has yet to take place.
“As part of its ongoing work around active transportation, the City is planning to complete additional line painting on the Bath Rd. multi-use trail to provide further guidance to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists on where they should be and how the multi-use trail should function,” said Mark Dickson, transportation manager for the City.
We additionally reached out to 7 Days in May founder Gord Townley to see if he had any comment on why he and his fellow cyclists were not using the bike lane on Bath Road.
“We definitely used the bike lane in Bath road – but it isn’t always there. Sometimes you have to edge into the main lane because there is no shoulder,” Townley said.
“It is new and only about 1 km long. Cars park in the lane. I know because I had to ride around some. The group I was with used the lane. The entrance is not good – we joined it about 100M in and we left Bath road before the bridge.”
Townley explained that the 7 Days in May cyclists who are raising funds for pancreatic cancer research ride along Bath Road (or what becomes Bath Road) for over 50 km, of which there is a bike path for about 1 k.m.
“Cyclists are in single file and are allowed to ride the road. Paths are safer – usually,” he said.
He also addressed some backlash his group got regarding their cycling on the 1000 Islands Parkway.
“A large group riding fast doesn’t do well on a bike path with driveways, etc. to cross. So I kept a group on the Parkway in the shoulder single file for a few kilometres for safety. As the bike path became less crowded, I moved them over,” he said, explaining that these decisions need to be made quickly and with all of the cyclists’ well-being top of mind.
“We were on the path for the vast majority of the ride into Brockville – there were about 4 km where we were on riding the shoulder on the Parkway. I was actually leading that group so know the situation well.”
According to local police, cyclists using the roadway, even when a bike lane or path is available, is not illegal.
“Bicycles are prohibited on expressway/freeway highways such as the 400 series, the QEW, the Ottawa Queensway, and on roads where ‘No Bicycle’ signs are posted,” Kingston Police said in a statement to Kingstonist.
“Other than that regulation, bicycles are allowed on all city streets unless otherwise posted,” police said. “Obviously, the bike lane as indicated is only for bicycles and not motor vehicle traffic, however this does not preclude bicycles from being able to travel on any highway as defined in the Highway Traffic Act and where not prohibited.”