Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bike Lane Enforcement

On Friday, June 26th, between 9:15 am and 11:00 am, I was travelling Harbord, College, St.George and Wellesley Streets keeping a committment I made to a cyclist that I would do some enforcement on illegally parked cars in the bike lanes.

I have to admit, it was nice to make the time to do some enforcement and get back to writing tickets and educating drivers and cyclists alike face to face.

Enforcement Results for my time = 2 Parking tickets, 7 cautions for parking in lanes, 1 caution for wrong way on one way street, 1 caution for stop sign offence.

Before I get crucified for cautioning drivers parked in the bike lanes, here is why I didn't feel the need to arrest them for criminal negligence, as some cyclists have suggestd we do.
-pulling up to the car/truck and asking the driver to move to a side street, stay out of the bike lane and tell them the danger they are causing to a cyclist and other traffic = 15 seconds
-making them wait for the parking ticket = 2 minutes
Problem is cleared faster, education is given and the chance for the driver to pay a little more respect is increased.

Caution for the wrong way? A cyclist on Richmond Street who was in the south lane travelling towards Spadina when I came around the bend aimed right at her. We had a discussion about the problem she was causing and the risk to her personal safety. She vounteered to walk her bike to Spadina on the sidwalk....great move!

Caution for stop sign offence? Liberty Village...2 cyclists WB at Hanna, one slows almost coming to a stop, the other slows and comes to a stop. One cyclist earned my respct as a road user sharing in safe and responsible riding habits, the other cyclist insulted the first and drew my attention by not stopping.

Were there more offences that happened...I am sure there were. While I was on College someone was probably illegally parked on Wellesley and while I was talking to a driver on Harboard there was probably a delivery truck on College.

The most frustrating event of my limited time out there was the following.

I was driving EB on Harboard coming up to Euclid and I could see a pedestrian that was about to cut between two parked cars right into the path of a cyclist. I created some space to allow the cyclist a place to move and when I was about to hit my horn, I heard a bell was the cyclist!! The pedestrian also heard it and held fast between the cars instead of coming out.

I was impressed with this cyclist who saw what was happening and had the equipment to attract the attention of the ped. We approached Bathurst, where there were three cars waiting to turn right. There was enough room for this same cyclist to push her way up the curb and go beside the traffic but instead, she stopped behind the last vehicle and waited.

I pulled along side to compliment her on the skill and awareness she was showing and she ignored me!!

I said my words louder and then noticed she was wearing ear buds and couldn't hear me!!! ARRGHHHH!!! Not the smartest thing to do when you need to hear what is around you for safety reasons.

Then as this was happening along came a rider who went from the road, to the sidewalk to move around all the stopped traffic, passed a TTC shelter with a person waiting in it, got to Bathurst and turned right down Bathurst...this left me shaking my head. Which cyclist is earning respect and which one is remembered by drivers?

I know that cyclists will scream at this next part but here is the reality. I never saw one car driving on the sidewalk, nor go through a red light, nor go through a stop sign or drive the wrong way on a one way street. I did see bicycles on the sidewalk, going the wrong way, go through stop signs...thankfully, no red lights though.

Prior to the cycling campaign the TPS had issued over three hundred thousand tickets with less than nine hundred going to cyclists. I would hardly call this a fact that cyclists are targetted or that there are sting operations to go after cyclists. Are the numbers going to increase...sure they are; nicer weather, more cyclists and this campaign will see to that.

So cyclists, lets try an experiment. For one week everyone stay off sidewalks, obey all the rules of the road, have and use all the required equipment...essentially act like a responsible road user and see if drivers take notice and give you more respect.

Keep up your demands for the legislative changes you desire but until those changes occur, obey the laws that exist. Make it so that drivers are suprised when you don't obey the rules of the road as opposed to being unphased by it. Earn the respect as opposed to demand it.


  1. Funny, I see motorists going the wrong on the streets in Mimico quite often, when I walk, drive or ride my bike. I also witness motorists driving and parking on the Martin Goodman Trail in the Western Waterfront beaches quite frequently. Come see just how many cars will be in this space on July 1st and 4th for the fireworks. Those would be a great evenings to come down to witness the abuse that motorists put on cyclists and pedestrians and their spaces. Bring lots of tickets!! And lots of backup, because there's also drinking by the drivers in those parks!!

    I've had call backs from parking enforcement up to four hours after making my complaint about cars stopped/parked in a bike lane. In at least some locations this is a persistent and recurring problem. 2275 Lakeshore Blvd is one location, NW corner of Queens Quay and Bathurst is another. A warning is not good enough as it does not provide a disincentive to change behaviour. "Education" with warnings does not work. These are often repeat offenders who gamble and get away with it enough to have no incentive to change their behaviour, or these are people who have seen these transgressions happening so frequently that they feel that they too should be entitled to the privilege of stopping in a bike lane without punishment.

    You want cyclists off of sidewalks? YOU can help by making the roads safer. Advocate within your own ranks, train and mentor the newbies coming from Birmingham that traffic enforcement IS serious police business, and is one of the biggest pro-active life saving jobs that police can take on. Promote near zero tolerance for driving infractions and watch all of the drivers smarten up and behave better. THEN cyclists will have a fighting chance and feel safer to stay on the roads.

  2. Keep up the good work! Like you said, there are countless infractions taking place at any moment by pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. Here's the best one I've managed to photograph:

    UPS truck stopped on the sidewalk, in a crosswalk, next to a park.

  3. I'm annoyed when people ride on the sidewalks on downtown streets such as Harbord and Bloor. There are pedestrians everywhere and it's not hard to imagine someone getting slammed as they step out of a store.

    That said, we all need to use common sense. I came out of the Humber River trail at Scarlet Rd. (Jane/St. Clair area) and it is busy road. Borderline highway. There is a sign saying that the street is a shared lane. Well, I'm not sharing a lane with cars and trucks whizzing by at 70km/h. I took the sidewalk. I drove slowly and if I had met any pedestrians I would have given them the right of way. Technically illegal, but that was a solution that didn't endanger anyone's life.

    Please don't get too dogmatic with the tickets. Ticket people that are actually endangering others.

  4. AMH - You get a big agreement from me.
    I will never say that drivers don't make the same mistakes and I know that it happens when we aren't around which can be very frustrating when it does to concerned citizens like yourself.
    We are doing more than ever with our officers to encourage taking traffic safety as seriously as criminal behaviour. It is well known that traffic crimes cost society more and inflict more harm than all other crimes put together.
    Thanks for taking the time to give us your opinion.

  5. SEEMS ARTLESS - Great picture. That really depicts the trouble that we have with road safety. Talk about dangerous!
    Thanks for the picture and the comment.

  6. JASON - While I can't condone the sidewalk riding, as you said, "technically illegal",I applaud your statement of, "use common sense".
    Most laws are based on common sense and if we all followed that approach, I bet the roads would be a lot safer for, it just makes common sense not to speed through school zones, go through red lights or pass someone so close that you endanger lives!
    Thanks for taking the time to post your comment.