Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Why Shouldn't I Park in the Bike Lane?

Why do we even need bike lanes?

Bicycles are vehicles under the law in Ontario. Cyclists may use the roads under the same laws as other vehicles.

But cyclists are a lot more vulnerable than motorists, especially on roads with heavy traffic. Cyclists have been killed at a modest but pretty steady rate on Toronto streets through collisions with cars. Over the decade from 1992-2001, there were 32 cyclist fatalities. To make bicycling safer, and to encourage more of it (because it reduces traffic wear on roads, and pollution), small lanes have been been set aside for bicycle use only aside on some major roads.

Setting aside small parts of the roadway isn't unusual. Cities often set aside lanes or entire roads for particular uses only -- like carpool lanes only for high occupancy vehicles (to encourage carpooling and reduce traffic), or forbidding heavy trucks on residential roads (for safety, to reduce noise and road wear-and-tear), or forbidding cyclists on highways. Nor are there a lot of bike lanes; Toronto has 51,000 km of roads, and 59 km of bike lanes; about one kilometer of bike lane for each 865 km of roads.

Is it even illegal to briefly stop in the bike lane?

The bicycle lanes are meant for traffic of vehicles. They are actual roadways, not the shoulder of a road. Blocking the bike lane, then, is blocking the roadway, covered under section 170 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, and punishable by fines of up to $100 and having the vehicle towed; this is on top of whatever parking infractions might have occured.

Who does it hurt if I stop briefly in the bike lane?

The 2003 Bicycle/Motor-Vehicle Accident Report is a detailed look of accidents that were reported to police between bicyclists and motor vehicles over the course of two years (1997 and 1998). Over that period, there were 2156 reported cyclist injuries from bike/car collisions, and ten cyclist deaths.

Obstructions of the bicycle path was a factor in at least seventeen of those accidents (`at least' because external contributing factors were only spottily reported in the police reports that provided the data). In these cases where the bike path being blocked was known to be a factor, six cyclists were sent to the hospital, and one was killed. Usually (eleven of the seventeen cases) when the bike lane was blocked, the car hit the bicyclist from behind in these cases -- which, maybe surprisingly, is one of the more fatal forms of car-bike collisions because the cyclist is likely run over as well as simply hit. That is why blocking the bike path, although accounting for as few as 17 of the over 2000 bike-car accidents over that period, contributed to almost a third of the cyclist fatalities those years.

On a road with a bike lane, drivers aren't expecting to have to deal with bicylists in the other lanes. A major road with a bicycle lane which is occasionally blocked means cyclists have to weave between the bike lane and the other lanes where drivers don't expect to see them, meaning a blocked bike lane can be more dangerous than no bike lane at all. The results can be a car-bicycle accident (in the 2003 report, the accidents were almost always with private cars), or a car-car accident as a driver swerves to avoid the cyclist.

Is it always illegal to stop in the bike lane?

It's pretty much always illegal to stop in the bike lane, for exactly the same reason that it's illegal to block a lane of car traffic. Having your hazards on doesn't make it legal, doing it only briefly doesn't make it legal, loading a couch into the car doesn't make it legal, and certainly none of those makes it any safer for cyclists.

There are exceptions, of course, but they are very limited. If a car breaks down, there's not much you can do if there's no where nearby to push it. An emergency vehicle responding to an emergency has to stop where it has to stop, and road work needs to happen on the roads. But unless it would be legal to stop in one of the other lanes, it isn't legal to stop in the bike lane.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Three Vehicle Pile Up near Gerrard & Mutual

Tag Dairy, Jun 27
Pile Up

One of the most annoying things about vehicles parking in the bike lane is that once one person does it, others figure they can, too. This FedEx truck (274-1AV) and this TAG Dairy Distributers truck (781-8LS) were blocking the westbound Gerrard bike lane at Gerrard and Mutual, and while I was there, a red car license 414-ZOD decided they could park behind them.

Our Graff Truck Again, June 27

Ah, yes, our Graff Truck again. (Type its license plate -- 721-7LD -- into the `search this blog' box and you can see its other appearences on this page.) It's in it's favourite spot, Gerrard & Yonge, at about 10am on Jun 27.

Canada Post Driving in Bike Lane, Jun 27

Canada Post truck 53949-44 (license 548-1NH) blocking the westbound bike lane near Gerrard and Yonge. After getting in, the driver proceeded to drive in the bike lane up to Gerrard and Bay. This is about 10am on June 27.

Culligan Water Truck

Culligan water truck #37, license 442-2LP (with a `Safety first: 1-866-605-9090; Truck number 963something) blocking the westbound bike path at College & University at about 10am on June 27.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Chevy on Gerrard

Green chevy 351-ADT blocking the eastbound Gerrard bike lane at Gerrard and Jarvis at 6:30pm on 24 June.

Able Atlantic Taxi

Able Atlantic Taxi ((416) 298-1111) AWSV-053 blocking the eastbound Gerrard bike lane at Gerrard and Yonge at 6:30pm on 24 June.

Pepsi Truck

Pepsi delivery truck OV4-113 blocking the westbound Gerrard bike lane at Gerrard and Bay at 10:15 am on 24 June.


Silver Volvo blocking the the eastbound Gerrard bike lane at Gerrard and Yonge at 6:30pm on 24 June.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Toronto Fire Department Back

CO detectors save lives; smoke alarms save lives. But apparently parking fire department vehicles in bike lanes is ok. Think it'd be ok if I parked in a fire lane? A Toronto Fire Inspector minivan choosing to block the eastbound College bike lane at College and University at 10:30 on 23 June.

Blocking both lanes

Honda, license 519-YLA, blocking bike and car lanes, stopped in the Northbound Sherbourne bike lane at King and Sherbourne, 6:30pm on 23 June.

Doubleparked Green Minivan

Green minivan, ASRE-805, double-parked in the westbound Gerrard bike lane at Gerrard and Yonge at 10:30am on 23 June.

Caution: Purolator Truck In Bike Lane

Purolator van license 386-9HF again blocking the westbound College bike lane at College and University at 10:30am on 23 June. As I was taking this picture, standing one foot in the bike lane, this van decided to back up, nearly running me over.

Very Frequent Stops

Reliable delivery minivan 931-2EW once again sitting at College and University, blocking the College bike lane, on 23 June at 10:30am.

Red Volvo, 23 June

Red Volvo, license APRD-045, blocking the eastbound Gerrard bike lane at Gerrard and Yonge, at 6:15pm on 23 June.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Acura, Jun 22

Acura, license AVEY-480, blocking the bike lane just east of Gerrard and Yonge, 6:15pm on 22 June.

FedEx, Jun 22

truck, license 535-8EL, blocking the bike lane near College and University, 10:30am on 22 June.

Nighttime 21 June

License APSJ-189 blocks the lane on a lovely summer evening at about 8:30 pm on 21 June, near Sherbourne and Shuter.

Graff Truck, 21 June

Our very first entry makes a very special guest re-appearence; Graff truck license 721-7LD in the same place near Gerrard and Bay at about the same time -- 10:30 am -- on 21 June. Hey, they didn't get a ticket the first time, why not just keep parking there, right?

Taxi, 21 June

Taxi #1364, license AHYR-406, blocking the bike lane at Gerrard and LaPlante, around 10:30 am on 21 June.


Big old `Shred-it' truck, license 382-3MX, blocks the bike lane on College near University at about 10:30 am on 21 June.

Purolator: Delivers Packages, Blocks Bikes

A Purolator truck, license 386-9HF, blocks the bike lane on Gerrard, at about 10:30 am on 21 June.

Frequent Stops Minivan 21 June

Delivery van, making frequent stops (as in, this is his second appearence on these pages) license 931-2EW, near Gerrard and Yonge at about 10:30 am 21 June.

Beech Brothers Limited Wholesale Candy, 21 June

Beech Bros Limited Wholesale Candy Distributers (call 416-251-0731 and let them know how you feel about their vans blocking bike lanes!)
license ZJ9-599, near Gerrard and Bay, at about 10:30am 21 June.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sometimes you just have to pull over and block the bike lane...

Blue topaz, license BEK-092, pulled over into the bike lane eastbound on College, about 11am on June 20.

Makes Frequent Bike Lane Stops

Makes frequent (bike lane) stops; blue minivan 931-2EW, westbound on College, about 11am on June 20.

Minivan and Graff Truck two-fer

Minivan and Graff truck (the same one as before? on College and Younge, westbound, 11am June 20. Quick shot -- no license plate info.

Pick UPS for your lane-blocking needs

A UPS truck, RE2-309, at 101 College, Eastbound; at 11am June 20.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Toronto City Workers Address the Problem

It's bad enough that the city doesn't do anything about cars parked in bike lanes, but could they at least not have their own vehicles blocking them? Toronto City minivan, vehicle #094017, License 135-4LK, blocking the southbound Sherbourne bike lane, also near Richmond and Sherbourne, around noon on 17 June 2005

Great Pix of Jeep blocking Sherbourne

Red Jeep license GR8-PIX (indeed) blocking the northbound Sherbourne bike lane, near noon on 17 June 2005.

When you absolutely, positively, have to block the bike lanes

Southbound UPSNorthboundUPS

UPS truck 806000, license RE3-054, blocking the southbound Sherbourne bike lane, and UPS truck 509049, license OW5-931, blocking the northbound Sherbourne bike lane, on either side of Richmond and Sherbourne, near noon on 17 June 2005.

Busy Blocking Day on Sherbourne

BMW, license ARWN-175, blocking the southbound bike path on Sherbourne, just south of Adelaide, at about 5:30 pm.

Southbound SUV on Sherbourne

SUV, license APSZ-876, blocking the northbound bike path on Sherbourne and Richmond, at about 10:05 am.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Silver Sedan in the Afternoon

Silver sedan, license AWAF-410, blocking the bike path on College near Elizabeth at about 6pm.

Silver Minivan

Silver minivan license ASER-862 blocking the bike path on College near University at about 10am.

Maroon Corolla in the Drizzle

Maroon Corolla, license AFYD-094, blocking the bike path on Elizabeth between Gerrard and College at about 10am.

Let's start off with a delivery truck

40 kph -- or much, much, slower, in this case. Delivery truck, license 721-7LD, blocking the bike path on Gerrard between Young and University at about 10am.