Cops crack down

Last Wednesday, Kingston Police Force (KPF) initiated a crackdown on bicyclists who were allegedly violating the rules of the road. KPF handed out 42 tickets and 18 warnings during the action, a part of their Safe Cycling initiative, timed to coincide with September’s return of students.

While bicyclists should be ticketed for dangerous infractions, KPF could stand to reconsider this intermittent strategy. Handing out tickets en masse, including large fines, is a particularly uncharitable and ineffective way to actually reduce infractions and increase road safety.

Periodic crackdowns might be a good way of causing a stir and temporarily raising awareness, but 42 tickets and 18 warnings in one day appears to be an opportunistic “cash cow” more than a genuine attempt to make residents bicycle lawfully. Consistent enforcement of the rules of the road is always preferable.

A better strategy would have been to make a display of issuing warnings at an earlier juncture and then return at a later date to ticket those who were still committing infractions.

A campaign to highlight “responsible cycling” habits is warranted, however. Many cyclists act somewhat arrogant and tend to think that the rules of the road don’t apply to them.

Although Ontario and Kingston should consider updating their traffic laws to include things like the “Idaho stop” where cyclists can treat stop signs as yields, there’s no good excuse for not bicycling within the law as it exists.

While reckless bicycling shouldn’t be tolerated, KPF could have acted with greater discretion when doling out fines as big as $325. That’s a lot of money on a student budget, and the recipient of such a fine is more likely to feel anger than guilt or apprehension.

While KPF was right to issue some tickets, their tactics need re-examining. A flash-in-the-pan strategy with a few heavy fines is inadvisable.


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