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Your Toronto 2014 Issue Navigator

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Poll: Majority of Torontonians Want to See Cyclists Licensed

But polls have said such things before—and it's never going to happen.

Photo by gbalogh, from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

A Leger poll commissioned by insurance marketplace Kanetix has found that 66.7 per cent of Torontonians approve of the idea of licensing cyclists. The poll results are consistent with a 2012 Forum poll, which pegged the approval rating at 65 per cent.

The idea of licensing cyclists as we do car drivers has been around for over 80 years—in fact, Toronto cyclists were licensed from 1935 to 1957. According to an amendment signed by Mayor Nathan Phillips, the program ended up being discontinued in part because licensing caused “an unconscious contravention of the law at a very tender age” in that the law was so consistently ignored by young people. The same amendment noted that the licensing also created “poor public relations between police officers and children.”

Council has revisited and rejected the idea of licensing cyclists at least five times since 1984. Staff reports produced throughout the years cite concerns about its prohibitively high cost, the practical difficulties of licensing young cyclists, and the possibility that licensing would act as a deterrent for casual cyclists—and point out that cyclists are already subject to the rules of the road.

Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) rejects the idea that licensing cyclists would improve outcomes for road users. “I think what we should be doing is enforcing the rules of the road on all road users,” he told Torontoist, adding that the introduction of licensing would likely kill Toronto’s Bike Share program.

Basically, in the words of noted cycling advocate Regina George: bike licensing is not going to happen, so stop trying to make it happen.


CORRECTION: May 9, 2014, 9:45 AM This post originally referred to Kanetix as an insurance provider; in fact it is an insurance marketplace. We regret the error.

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