Accidental Activist

Bike Lane Blocking on Adelaide in Toronto

The bike lane designers were nice enough to give us poles and paint, but it doesn't matter - drivers never get it.

By Ben Bull
Published June 07, 2016

That moment you realize you've been caught on camera doing something you shouldn't...

I was cruising on my bike along Adelaide Street, Toronto, when I got snapped by a Toronto Star photographer.

Ben Bull weaving around a car blocking the Adelaide bike lane as a police officer issues a ticket (Image Credit: Todd Korol/Toronto Star)
Ben Bull weaving around a car blocking the Adelaide bike lane as a police officer issues a ticket (Image Credit: Todd Korol/Toronto Star)

I was lucky - If the lens had shuttered two seconds earlier I would have had a vastly different look on my face.

Bike lane blockers are my nemesis. This idiot had the nerve to tuck himself right between the plastic poles. "Get out of the f------ way!" I screamed before weaving into the road and wheeling on my way.

Ever since the bike lanes opened along Richmond and Adelaide, I've been having to spill out into traffic, pedalling for my life. The designers were nice enough to give us poles and paint, but it doesn't matter - drivers never get it.

The biggest issue is the intersections: Cars don't know when to turn, so they wait until we cyclists are right up on their bonnet before yanking the wheel around.

My preferred route to work avoids these lanes at all costs - even though they're on my way. Instead I use a section of pavement and 200 yards of wrong way street.

Ah...Just another day biking through the streets of Toronto.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 10:21:48

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By Bikey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 10:24:47 in reply to Comment 119104

Please don't call 911 for parking infractions.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 11:02:02 in reply to Comment 119106

No kidding. If anything, it is criminal to call 911 because someone has annoyed you by breaking a by-law.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 11:23:51 in reply to Comment 119107

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Comment edited by KevinLove on 2016-06-07 11:25:19

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By Cal (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 15:45:48 in reply to Comment 119109

This is the most pro-cycling blog I know and even here everyone is like "whoa, settle down there, fella". That should be a hint.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2016 at 20:49:48 in reply to Comment 119122

His post is stupid. It's not offensive. The button says click if "offensive comment." I don't get all the greying out in this place.

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By Bikey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 12:37:35 in reply to Comment 119109

Mr. Bulls alternate response could be to could slow down slightly, look over his shoulder, move over a bit and ride around the car. From the picture in the article, there isn't any traffic around that is going to murderously endanger his life. However, this would not make for a very good story.

To reiterate, do not call 911 in this situation. If you do, you are putting real children at risk that might be having an actual, life-threatening emergency.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 11:55:20 in reply to Comment 119109

And your description will be 'there is a car parked in a bike lane'. Oh no wait, your description will be 'There is a murderous cancer spewing criminal killing innocent children in the bike lane!!!' . And their response will be 'Clear this line immediately or you will be subject to a fine.' Repeated calls of that nature will result in a fine of up to $1000.

Instead of taking the over-the-top nutbar approach why not just call police services? They'd be happy to issue a ticket and people will eventually learn.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2016 at 11:13:26

Curbs! Like Montreal.

Hopefully Toronto does this in their next Adelaide/Richmond reno in a few years.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2016 at 12:57:39 in reply to Comment 119108

One of the things I like about the Cannon Cycle Track is the rubber curbing, which does a great job of keeping cars out of the lane.

Rubber curbing on Cannon Cycle Track

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 14:21:01 in reply to Comment 119116

Yes, that is true, where it exists. But much of Cannon Street has no such protection. Here is an example of a better bike lane design for that sort of street:

https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2014/...

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By Sara (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 18:35:04 in reply to Comment 119118

Kevin, when's the last time you rode Cannon St? You seem to be forgetting that actually the Cannon St bike lane has rubber curb stops for it's entire length with the only exceptions being at driveways. Yes, quite a few driveways, but many blocks have no driveways at all, and not fair to say "much of Cannon Street has no such protection."

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By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 18:46:34 in reply to Comment 119124

There are enough gaps that delivery, construction, and police vehicles stop routinely. I know the driveway gaps are necessary but a more robust separator would send a stronger signal that the track isn't a car space. That being said, when compared to every other lane in the city it is a good design :)

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 21:28:57 in reply to Comment 119125

There are no rubber stops in many places that have no driveways.

Here is one example.

Here is another example.

And here.

Here too

And here.

And here.

I believe that this is a sufficient number of pictures to justify the statement, "... much of Cannon Street has no such protection." But if anyone wants more, just let me know.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 14:37:54 in reply to Comment 119118

comment from banned user deleted

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By joejoe (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 14:08:53

I'm with Ryan on this one. Only an idiot proof design fix will work. Calling it in doesn't work because the scofflaws will be long gone. Regular enforcement would help - but the latest blitz is just that - a ticketing blip that won't last or result in any meaningful change. A better design is the only way to go. As with all successful designs, the ones catering to the lowest common denominator are the most successful.

(And yes, I wasn't 'pedaling for my life' in this instance but when it's Richmond Street in rush hour - yikes!)

Ben

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By orangemike (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 17:33:55

a group of cycling activists will create an "awareness campaign". they will publicize the website where anyone can submit a photo of the make model and plate of the offending car. with a business card under the wiper saying "your car has been photographed and id'd. a photo of your plate and car has been submitted to a website to publicly shame scofflaw that are violating the bike lane laws. you are a hazard to public safety. please stop" if shaming isnt enough, i would think that after a few repeat offenders get keyed or have their windshields shattered, violations will decrease. we will see.

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By Bikey (registered) | Posted June 08, 2016 at 07:43:29 in reply to Comment 119123

As a cyclist, these over the top responses are very disappointing and can only harm the good work that many people have done in making Hamilton a better place to ride. The general public can find enough reasons to bash cyclists without this type of response.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 21:35:29 in reply to Comment 119123

So far we've got 'call 911' and 'key the car and/or smash windshields' as solutions for illegally parked cars. Wow...

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2016 at 21:03:43 in reply to Comment 119123

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