The purpose of this bylaw is to regulate the use of highways under the direction, control and management of the City and to regulate the parking of vehicles on such highways as well as on privately owned property.

Notes

Bicycles are allowed on all highways in Edmonton. This includes roads on private property that normally permit the public to use for passage or parking.


sidewalk” means that part of a highway especially adapted to the use of or ordinarily used by pedestrians, and includes that part of a highway between:

  1. the curb line, or
  2. where there is no curb line, the edge of the roadway, and the adjacent property line, whether or not it is paved or improved;


highway” means any thoroughfare, street, road, trail, avenue, parkway, viaduct, lane, alley, square, bridge, causeway, trestleway or other place, whether publicly or privately owned, any part of which the public is ordinarily entitled or permitted to use for the passage or parking of vehicles, and includes:

  1. a sidewalk, including a boulevard adjacent to the sidewalk,
  2. if a ditch lies adjacent to and parallel with the roadway, the ditch, and
  3. if a highway right of way is contained between fences or between a fence and one side of the roadway, all the land between the fences, or all the land between the fence and the edge of the roadway, as the case may be,

but does not include a place declared by regulation not to be a highway;


MATERIAL ON SIDEWALKS/ROADWAYS
48 A person shall not place, cause or permit to be placed any earth, sand, gravel, grass, leaves, snow, ice or other material upon any sidewalk or roadway.

BICYCLES
49

  1. A person shall not ride a bicycle on any sidewalk.
  2. This section does not apply:
  1. if the bicycle has a wheel diameter of 50 centimeters or less; or
  2. if the sidewalk is designated as a bicycle path.

BICYCLE CONDUCT
50 A person riding a bicycle on a sidewalk or bicycle path shall:

  1. yield the right of way to slower moving people;
  2. alert anyone about to be overtaken by sounding a bell a reasonable amount of time before overtaking;
  3. use reasonable care when overtaking another person; and
  4. travel under control and at a reasonable rate of speed having regard to the nature, condition and use of the sidewalk or bicycle path including the amount of pedestrian traffic.

 

Crosswalks


crosswalk” means:

  1. that part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connection of the lateral line of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs, or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway; or
  2. any part of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by traffic control devices or by line or by other markings on the road surface;

 

This means that crosswalks do not have to have any kind of signage to be considered a crosswalk. e.g. the following is a crosswalk, and pedestrians have the right of way, even though it is not explicitly marked or signed in any way (the green lines have been added digitally):
crosswalk

Alberta Regulation 304/2002 of the Traffic Safety Act states:


Yielding to pedestrians
41

  1. A person driving a vehicle shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk.
  2. Where a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, a person driving any other vehicle that is approaching the stopped vehicle from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.
  3. At any place on a roadway other than at a crosswalk, a person driving a vehicle has the right of way over pedestrians unless otherwise directed by a peace officer or a traffic control device.
  4. Nothing in subsection (3) relieves a person driving a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of pedestrians.

 

There is currently no section in the Edmonton Traffic Bylaw 5590 or the Alberta Traffic Safety Act specifically dealing with cyclists in crosswalks. Cyclists are not legally required to dismount at crosswalks and there is nothing to prohibit a cyclist from riding along a crosswalk.

In terms of the operations of a crosswalk, as stated in the Alberta TSA “Use of Highway and Rules of the Road Regulation” Part 2, Division 4 (75): “A person driving a vehicle shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within the crosswalk.”

Therefore, only if a cyclist dismounts and is therefore considered a pedestrian and not a vehicle by law, does he or she obtain the right-of-way over motorists.

If a cyclist chooses to ride his or her bike along the crosswalk, they are considered a vehicle. The crosswalk only serves to provide protection for pedestrians.

This does not excuse vehicles from exercising due care and taking reasonable efforts to avoid collisions (regardless of right of way), but they are not legally obligated to yield to a cyclist who rides through a crosswalk merely because of the presence of a crosswalk. On the other hand, other controls, such as a yield or stop sign, would still require a driver to yield to both pedestrians and cross traffic, meaning even without dismounting a person would still have the right of way over vehicle traffic.

Note that in the case of a cyclist riding on a sidewalk (where cyclists aren’t normally allowed), while riding across the crosswalk may not be illegal, if riding on that sidewalk is illegal, in the case of a collision the cyclist would likely be found to have contributed to the collision. And in all cases, all road users must exercise due care for themselves, regardless of right-of-way, and the specific final determination of fault in a collision would come down to the courts. None of the material here is to be taken as legal advice.

The City of Edmonton typically encourages cyclists to dismount, especially at busier intersections. We must address all cyclists and their varying levels of skill and comfort.

The status of riding in crosswalks can vary. For instance, in Calgary, but not Edmonton, people riding bicycles across multi-use crossings have the right of way just as any pedestrian:


Calgary Bylaw 26M96
MULTI-USE CROSSINGS
41.1

  1. The Traffic Engineer may designate crosswalks upon which a person may ride a bicycle to cross the roadway.
  2. Where the Traffic Engineer has designated a crosswalk pursuant to subsection (1), any crosswalk so designated shall be known as a “multi-use crossing”. The Traffic Engineer shall indicate the multi-use crossing by the placement of such traffic control devices as the Traffic Engineer deems necessary.
  3. A person operating a vehicle on a roadway must yield the right of way to:
    1. a pedestrian; and
    2. a person riding a bicycle;

    who is crossing the roadway within a multi-use crossing.

  4. When crossing a roadway within a multi-use crossing:
    1. a pedestrian; or
    2. a person riding a bicycle;

    has the same rights and obligations of a pedestrian using a crosswalk.

 

calgary-multi-use-crossing

 

6 comments on “Bylaw 5590: Traffic Bylaw

  1. Marion Waddington [Likely posting from: Canada]

    Update the attached Bylaw 5590 to the most current copy as the Bylaw has been updated after the November 13, 2007 version that is displayed on this site. Thank you!.

  2. SGK [Likely posting from: Canada]

    I have a question, as the driver of a motorized vehicle, and one who really endeavours to be as courteous as I can be to cyclists. If I am in a car, and I pull up to a corner, in the right hand lane, with my right hand indicator on, and the light is green, and a bicycle then pulls up beside me on the right with the intention of going straight, who has the right of way? If my car and the bicycle collided because the bicycle was passing me on the right, am I in the wrong? Also, is there a difference if the right lane is a dedicated bike lane? I always thought that vehicles (including bikes) in the bike lane must remain single file. I have recently had a debate about this with a friend and was told that the bike always has the right of way in the bike lane, even when it doubles as a right turn lane, to which I mostly agree – I shouldn’t cut off a cyclist, or get in their space in a bike lane, but if I’m already in it and they encroach from behind and attempt to pass me on the right while I’m turning right – then what is the rule? And if a cyclist is just riding on the side of the road with no bike lane and the same scenario unfolds – then what is the rule?

    1. Chris [Likely posting from: Canada] Post author

      As a car driver, to execute a right turn, you should move as close as practical to the right-hand curb or the edge of the road. This generally should preclude a bike attempting to pass you on the right. Leaving space on your right side can indicate an intention to drive straight through the intersection (though your indicator lights should normally make your intentions clear far in advance of the intersection regardless).

      In terms of your discussion with your friend, you’re dealing with a grey zone. The Traffic Safety Act defines a traffic lane as “a longitudinal division of a highway of sufficient width to accommodate the passage of a single line of vehicles.” A bicycle is defined as a vehicle, so if you’ve left enough space for a bicycle to pass on your right side, there may be justifiable argument that the bike is simply travelling in a curbside traffic lane. Whether or not that argument holds up in court would be up to a court to decide.

      What’s important in this situation is that you have an obligation to take reasonable measures to avoid collisions. This always trumps right-of-way: if you have an opportunity to reasonably avoid a collision, you must, even if you otherwise have the right of way. Additionally, you must always check on your right side when performing a right turn, and it is reasonable to expect that a bike or pedestrian may be there (especially if you just recently overtook the bike).

      Therefore, you would be at least partially at fault in a collision if you hit a bike or pedestrian while making a right turn. Whether or not the police lay a charge, or a judge finds the driver (partially) at fault in court, varies greatly, and would mostly depend on the luck of who you end up dealing with.

      With current dedicated bike lanes in Edmonton, almost all of them become shared lanes at intersections, indicated by the solid white line becoming a dotted white line and usually widening. As a driver, you are expected to perform a full lane change into the curb lane when safe to do so. As with any other lane change, vehicles (i.e. bikes) already in the lane going straight have the right-of-way; you must wait until it is safe and clear before you make your lane change.

      Again, once you make your lane change, you should be as far to right as practicable, which shouldn’t leave enough space for a cyclist to attempt to pass you on the right.

      If a cyclist does find enough space to pass you on the right, the above applies: you must take all reasonable measures to avoid a collision. This generally means letting the bike move out of the intersection before proceeding.

      We always advise people riding bikes to avoid passing cars on the right side at intersections, as it creates unnecessary potential for conflict and collisions. It’s definitely a higher-risk manoeuvre, and creates a situation that can result in a type of collision common enough to be termed a “right hook”. We teach people to move to the centre of the lane and wait behind other traffic at lights.

      In the case of a green light, we also recommend moving towards the centre of the lane in advance of the intersection. This communicates to drivers the cyclist’s intention to proceed straight through, while also discouraging drivers from attempting to make a right turn in front of the bike. However, many people may choose to stay to the right of the lane out of fear of antagonizing car drivers; a car then should never attempt to overtake the bike to make a right turn, but rather wait for the bike to clear the intersection before moving all the way to the right in preparation for the turn. (This kind of “right hook”, where a car attempts to make a right turn while overtaking a bike, is the most common form of “right hook”, and is entirely the fault of the driver, just as it would be if the car attempted to make a right turn from a centre lane and collided with another car proceeding straight.)

      There are a couple bike boxes in Edmonton, which extend a bike lane all the way to the front of the intersection, in front of the stop line for other vehicles. Right turns on red are banned at these intersections. In this case, bikes moves up to the front of the intersection and then proceeds first when the light changes. This makes the expectations clear for drivers and people on bikes.

      I hope that helps clarifies things for you and your friend.

      None of this comment should be taken as legal advice.

  3. Mike [Likely posting from: Canada]

    Hi, great post, I don’t want it to sound like I hate cyclists because I ride my bike as often as I can in Edmonton… I really like the fact that you “get it!’… however it would be great if more cyclists understood the realities behind driving, as in when a cyclist is on the sidewalk there are many things, such as fences near the road (for cross traffic), parked cars, trees, between the car and you, etc. that can prevent a driver attempting a right turn from seeing that cyclist, given the speed of a bike vs that of a cyclist. Attempting to barrel down the sidewalk and cross all the crosswalks without stopping or slowing down regardless of the drivers approaching from any direction is a recipe for disaster…
    Of course most drivers would feel bad if we killed a cyclist, but they would still be dead… And why does it seem, if you look at them, the cyclists that do these things have no bell, light, helmet or cycling gear, its as if they have no common sense at all and enjoy the risk!

    Also, especially (even more) dangerous but often witnessed by me, is a cyclist proceeding straight in line with traffic and then at FULL SPEED without looking at all, leaning hard left and shooting across the crosswalk and causing all the vehicles to slam on their brakes and accidents to take place. Then, one of two things happens in my experience, the cyclist SCREAMS at the driver for “almost hitting them in a crosswalk” (how are these guys still alive?!) OR the cyclist vanishes leaving others to deal with their mess. And like I said, if you are a bicycle commuter I doubt this is something you’d do, so don’t take it personally if thats your thing! I just don’t want to run over anyone and don’t want to have any close calls!

    1. Chris [Likely posting from: Canada] Post author

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      We give free presentations to workplaces and community groups about cycling in Edmonton. Part of those presentations (as well as in our other outreach and education activities) focuses on the dangers of sidewalk cycling, including how difficult it makes it to have safe interactions with car drivers.

      People never decide to ride on a sidewalk because they enjoy risk, however. Quite the opposite: people ride on the sidewalk because they feel it is safer than riding on the road. In some cases, this can be true. It depends on how the person rides on the sidewalk, how they ride on the road, and what the roadway and traffic conditions are. It also depends on the design of the roads and sidewalks.

      This is why we advocate strongly for better designed streets which work efficiently and safely for pedestrians, people riding bikes, and drivers. If people feel they have a safer place to ride than the sidewalk, they’ll naturally choose it, even without additional education. Studies across North America and the world have found this to be true.

      As for bells and lights: people ride bicycles for various reasons. For most, it is a choice based on health, enjoyment, and other factors. For some, it’s an economic necessity: they need to get to work or school and don’t have the option of walking, driving or taking transit. They may not be aware of the requirements for lights and bells, or may not be able to afford the time or money to acquire them. It is not a thrill-seeking decision.

      At EBC, we strive to carry bells and lights for as low-cost as possible to ensure accessibility, but at most bike retailers a set of lights will cost over $20. For many people, that amount is simply more valuable to them spent on rent or food. Lights are often stolen off of bikes as well, meaning that even low-cost options can get expensive over time if a person doesn’t always have secure places to lock their bike.

      As for helmets and cycling gear: helmets are not required for adults in most of Alberta (and don’t correlate with risky behaviour: driving a car is riskier and more deleterious to a person’s health than riding a bicycle without a helmet), and we strongly support people who choose to ride in regular clothes. I often don’t wear any cycling gear when riding my bike.

      Finally, what you described about riding across a crosswalk can indeed be very dangerous. Better bike infrastructure also curbs this kind of undesirable behaviour: when there’s an explicit space for people to safely ride their bikes, they’ll naturally prefer it rather than trying to create their own space in mixed traffic. We do our best to educate, but it can be difficult, expensive, or impossible to educate and re-train everyone that wants to ride a bike (especially those who are uninterested in being educated), but by designing streets with an understanding of natural human tendencies, a lot of problematic behaviour can be avoided.

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