Home Forums Advocacy Region of Waterloo Removes Two Abreast Bylaw

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    June 1, 2016

    WATERLOO REGION — The region has confirmed a vote to allow two-abreast cycling on Regional roads.  “People are responsible for the mode of transportation you’re in,” Coun. Geoff Lorentz said Wednesday night.

    Councillors voted the same way as they did at the region’s planning and works committee last week when they first gave the green light to side-by-side cycling in the region.  North Dumfries Mayor Sue Foxton said there was some misunderstanding around the bylaw.  The Highway Traffic Act does not say two-abreast cycling is not permitted; the document is silent on the subject.  The bylaw change was intended to align the region’s bylaw with the act.  It’s is part of an update to the region’s traffic and parking bylaw and it was suggested at the time that the ban on two-abreast cycling be removed.

    The Waterloo Cycling Club and over a dozen of its members were at the meeting to express their support of the vote regional politicians confirmed Wednesday.   “The bylaw creates confusion for all road users,” club president Alain Francq told regional council.  He added that the region’s confirmation of the change “creates the safest environment.”

    Coun. Tom Galloway, who sits on the Waterloo regional police board, said from a policing point of view, the bylaw is not seen as a necessary tool. “They will first and foremost cite the Highway Traffic Act, and the bylaw is secondary.” “The HTA is consistent across the province,” he said, adding that the legislation is what every motorist should be relying on.

    President Francq’s Comments and Presentation here:

    Waterloo Cycling Club Comments at Regional Council Meeting on Two Abreast Cycling

    WRPS-WCC Share the Road Presentation


    Note: Riding two abreast is allowed on all Regional Roads.

    However, despite tremendous support from Regional Council, two local mayors voted against removing the bylaw in Wellesely and Woolwich township, where the bylaw still exists.

    For the Club, this does not change how we ride. As indicated in the comments to council, we are fully supported by the Waterloo Regional Police Service who have reviewed our RIDE GUIDE and incorporated parts of it into their presentation on safe cycling in the Region. They are not going to enforce the bylaw, but will enforce the HTA for all road users, including cyclists and motorists.

    This is perfectly fine, as our RIDE GUIDE is based on the HTA.

    We will continue to ride within the law of the Highway Traffic Act and lead by example in how to share the road.


    Here is a good video that describes what is involved.



    Alain, thank you for your eloquent and passionate presentation. I wish I could have been there in person to witness it, and show my support. Just know that I was on the road, doing my bit for the club by being an ever present commuter obeying the rules of the road and showing the region what sharing the road is really like.

    Keep up the GREAT work!!

    Gaelen, your editorial and passion for cycling is beyond the pale. I bow to you and some day hope to emulate 50% of your commitment to cycling. We are very, very fortunate to have you in our community. Thank you!!!


    Thanks Scott for posting the online video of the council meeting. We’d like to re-post it here as well. And we strongly encourage you to watch it, as it gives you fairly deep insight into the debate and decisions that affect you on the road. And it may not stay up for long.

    If you are a cyclist in the Region you need to watch this (not sure how long it stays up). “Most” Council members are PRO-cycling, speak very highly of us, and direct the conversation towards bad drivers.

    Here is the link to the Council Meeting (Video!…no reading required) from Wednesday. It is conveniently broken down into separate topics for easy navigation.

    Pay particular attention to the section “Discussion and Decision”…@ 38mins. Here the Councillors describe their position on cycling two-abreast…makes you realize that good etiquette on the road is noticed….time for some self-reflection.




    Mathew Gallagher

    I wanted to take a moment to thank all those that lead our cycling community. In attempts to emulate their lead by example mentality I have attached the related links to the additional groups I frequently ride with as well as other non riding groups to assist in continuing the educational process. My many thanks for all the work done by our community by continuing alternative transportation education and making our roads safer for all users

    Mat G



    I was reviewing “Cycling Skills: Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling”


    They have the following section on group riding,

    “Travelling in groups
    There are a few safety tips to keep in mind when travelling in
    • Ride in single file on two-lane roads or when traffic
    is heavy on multi-lane roads.
    • Keep at least one metre apart from other cyclists
    in the group and keep several lengths apart when
    going downhill at high speed.
    If you are travelling in a large group, break up into smaller
    groups of about four to six. Keep about one kilometre
    between groups to allow traffic to pass.”

    I have a few comments on this,

    – I take it that the Province of Ontario, the government that rules our roads, says there are only limited times when they suggest riding single file for safety. The implication is the rest of the time is fine.

    – The maximum density for safe biking is six bikes per kilometre. I don’t think this is going to help with our traffic, pollution, and fitness woes.

    – The group they show in the photo in the guide has at least nine.

    So yes, two abreast prohibition adds to the confusion. The educational aspect of this issue needs some attention. There are lots of confusing messages out there. We need a single, clear message from the provincial and municipal governments, then it needs to be clearly communicated to all road users.

    The primary “To Do” around this issue has always been education. With proper education, the other things will fall into place.

    Education around this issue is still largely undone. There has been lots of great discussion around this issue recently, but we have a lot of work still to be done. So I encourage you to continue this education at every opportunity.

    And as you are communicating with our elected officials, don’t forget your MPP (member of provincial parliament). We need a strong, clear, sensible message from the top.



    Thanks Bill,

    Indeed, education was the singular actionable item (other than changing the bylaw) to come out of the Regional Council meeting.

    WCC has been asked to help with creating a video about riding side-by-side.

    I have seen that Guide. And it is just that, a guide. Similar to the CYCLISTS MUST RIDE SINGLE FILE signs. It is just a suggestion. Not the law or the way the HTA is truly implemented or enforced.

    Creating a new “Guide” will definitely be part of the program.

    But, the most striking comment was from Councillor Lorentz, who said, “You can’t legislate common sense.” Ain’t that the truth. It’s a culture shift over time.

    We’re on it.




    I saw two things this week on the item of signage and education.

    First, I saw this yesterday on Lake Shore in Toronto near the ramp onto the Gardener by the Exhibition Place. (taken by my passenger). I sent it to the Region Of Waterloo as something we should consider here.

    Cyclists Sign

    Also, saw this great video produced by Peterborough. http://thekawarthas.ca/experience/cycling/

    Not specifically about side-by-side, but embracing cyclists riding in all formations, including side-by-side on the road, as a family on the canal trail, hosting a CX Race, miles of single track MTB trails, all as way of showcasing their beautify Region to underpin tourism aspirations.

    #NextLevelThinking Let’s do it.



    I like that video. We should do one ourselves.

    Today was The Wild Ride. On the way we saw a share the road billboard (near Shakespeare) that talked of the 1m rule. We also got this I Share the Road leaflet at The Wild Ride itself (intentionally blurred),

    (One side)

    (Other side)

    So it seems there are lots of organizations attempting education. We will see if we can get in touch with some of these groups to see if they have been able to measure the effectiveness.



    KITCHENER POST by Laurie Snell

    “Cycling two abreast gets the go-ahead from regional council”

    Despite some confusion, regional council lifted the ban on cycling two abreast last week, to better align its bylaw with the Highway Traffic Act for safety.

    Alain Francq, Waterloo Cycling Club president, spoke in favour of lifting the ban, during the June 1 council meeting.

    “The bylaw creates confusion for all road users,” Francq said.

    “It runs counter to the Highway Traffic Act and it’s not enforced by the police.”

    He added, the bylaw doesn’t help motorists, nor does it help cyclists.

    “The reason we support removing the two abreast bylaw and aligning law enforcement with the Highway Traffic Act is really crystal clear. For us it’s about safety,” Francq said.

    “The Highway Traffic Act is very clear how to ride a bicycle and drive a vehicle within the law and how to share the road,” Francq said.

    He said the Highway Traffic Act describes how slow-moving vehicles travel on the right side, how vehicles must overtake bicycles, how cyclists must turn out to the right and behave a certain way while they are overtaken — all details, he said, the bylaw does not cover.

    He added, the traffic act also outlines the necessary one metre of spacing that is required when a motorist passes a cyclist, where the bylaw does not.

    “Removing the two abreast bylaw, to align local cycling policy with the Highway Traffic Act creates the safest environment,” he reiterated.

    Peter Dedes, former Kitchener Cycling Advisory Committee Chair, agreed with Francq.

    “It’s an old law and it’s time to come off the books,” he said, adding it was first established in the mid-1980s.

    While cycling groups were all for lifting the ban, regional councillors were split on the decision.

    Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky compared cyclists to horse and buggies riding along the side of the road, noting that vehicles slow down behind buggies and pass them using caution.

    “Why protect one and not the other?” Jaworksy said.

    Regional Coun. Geoff Lorentz said it all boils down to common sense.

    “You can’t legislate common sense,” he said. “We have terrible drivers in this community.”

    He added that no one really obeys the speed limit.

    “Nobody follows the rules of the roads,” Lorentz said.

    Regional Coun. Sean Strickland maintained his opposition from the committee meeting.

    “We should not allow two abreast cycling,” Strickland said.

    Regional Coun. Tom Galloway, who chairs the police board, referenced an earlier conversation with Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin.

    “Police are not looking for more bylaws to enforce,” Galloway said.

    “The Highway Traffic Act supercedes the bylaw for police.”

    The ban on riding two abreast was lifted with all but three regional councillors voting for it.



    Collingwood Cycling Club and Bruce Grey Simcoe just released 4 incredible cycling education videos this week !

    LOVE THEM !!!! Shows both single and double. Wearing CCC kit. Brilliant. Short 30 second spots. Nice folksy music. Singular message.



    As Gaelen pointed out on TWitter, other counties have more inclusive warnings,



    But closer to home,


    Lots of talk of farm implements, people on bikes, etc., but actions focus on one.


    Avery B.

    I note with interest the post concerning the Wellesely and Woolwich township bylaw which prohibits side-by-side cycling (June 2).

    The side-by-side issue arises frequently here in the Ottawa region even though a similar local bylaw was set aside in 1994. For example, just this past week a motorist implied in a letter to a local newspaper that riding side-by-side contravened the rules of the road. Three days later the newspaper printed my response countering the letter writer’s argument.

    As for the bylaw, I believe it could be argued with W&W council that the regulation is inconsistent with HTA S.148(5) on overtaking … viz
    <i>Every person in charge of a vehicle or on horseback on a highway who is overtaking another vehicle or equestrian shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision with the vehicle or equestrian overtaken, and the person overtaken is not required to leave more than one-half of the roadway free. </i>

    Since the driver of any vehicle including a bicycle, is required to leave no more than one half of the roadway free, the by-law places an onerous restriction on a cyclist who would otherwise be acting in accordance with the requirements of the HTA. The HTA anticipated the possibility of conflicting regulations with this section …

    <i>Effect of by-laws – Inconsistent by-laws deemed repealed
    195. (1) If a provision of a municipal by-law passed by the council of a municipality or a police services board for,

    (a) regulating traffic on the highways;

    is inconsistent with this Act or the regulations, the provision of the by-law shall be deemed to be repealed upon the inconsistency arising. </i>

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