What You Need to Know When you Head Out on Two Wheels
Bicycling is a an outdoor activity enjoyed by many Edmontonians.
Even though the season is rather limited (for most of us bike enthusiasts, that is -- there are some brave souls who
ride year-round, even in the winter), there is no better way to get some fresh air, exercise and
see the natural beauty of the city all at the same time.
Many cyclists head for the river valley, also know as Edmonton's "Ribbon of Green."
It's almost like hitting a series of country roads and backwoods trails, without ever leaving the city. While some pedestrians
and joggers complain that cyclists are a threat to their safety, while destroying flora and fauna by
haphazardly riding over everything in site, most cyclists in Edmonton tend to be rather laid back.
In fact, the motto "Share the Trails," which can be found on signs all over the River Valley,
appears to be adhered to with full force. Most cyclists in Edmonton use mountain bikes due to the
many hills and unpaved areas, not only on the trails, but on the street.
Bicycle commuters have more a problem -- cycling lanes are few and far between. Most cyclists use service roads
that exist alongside the main drags, but rarely can a cyclist use these exclusively. Sooner or later you
have to go out near the cars and trucks and ride on the main road. Again, most of the time
the roads are shared with little incident. I would even dare to say that many of the problems
cyclists face are due to their own lack of knowledge about their role in the traffic. Here are a few pointers:
Bicycles are considered a vehicle just like a car, truck or motorcycle.
As such, cyclists must obey all the rules of traffic just like their four wheel counterparts.
You can ride out as far as one meter from the curb. Technically, it is illegal for a motorist
to pass a cyclist in the same lane, so don't feel obligated to give them extra room. They are supposed to
change lanes to pass you.
Riding on the sidewalk is illegal if you tires are larger than 50 cm in diameter, except where
otherwise denoted by signs, like near the Provincial Museum.
A major complaint of motorists in the city is that cyclists do not take their right of way at four-way stops, thus confusing
everyone who gets there at the same time as you. Proceed just like you would if you were driving a car -- the first person who arrives
goes first, then the second, etc.
Although it is illegal to cycle on the sidewalk (an offense which comes with a $35 price tag, I mean, ticket),
sometimes the traffic gets so that it is not safe to ride on the road. I find this occurs most often downtown and
on Whyte Avenue. It's sort of a catch-22 situation, since these areas are where
a higher concentration of pedestrians are going to be found. When the going gets tough -- get off your bike and walk it.
For the cycling enthusiast who wishes to share their passion with other like-minded individuals,
joining the Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club
is the thing to do. The EBTC organizes cycling trips during the spring, summer and fall
and publishes a newsletter keeping members informed about cycling related issues in the city.
There are many sports shops in Edmonton that sell cycling gear. Many, in fact, specialize in
bikes. And if you are a member of the EBTC, you are eligible for discounts. United Cycle,
Hardcore Mountain Bike Store, River Valley Cycle and Sport
and Western Cycle are just a few of the dozen or so
sporting goods stores in Edmonton that specialize in bikes.