A Google Street View Tour of Bike Lane Parking on College Street

At the Begining

The College Street bike lane is quite possibly one of Toronto’s most used. Hundreds, if not thousands, of cyclists use this east/west bike lane to go to work, school, shop or simply get across town. Unfortunately, this bike lane is also a perfect place to let your car idle while you quickly run into one of the many shops and businesses that line this busy street.

The bike lane starts at Bay Street at its east end. In the image above we see a cyclist using the lane, a parked bicycle and another cyclist peaking into a window, a nice little slice of daily life.

Heading west, we pass the long intersection of University Avenue. And we find our first bike lane parker. Sure, a delivery truck may only park for a few minutes at a time… many times a day, every weekday… oh I guess that adds up:
Special Delivery

Moving further west, we see things are as they should be at Henry Street:

Bikes in the Bike Lane

But then we spot a van on the south side of the street just east of St. George:

The White Van

A little further west and it’s another white truck, only this one is much larger:

Big Delivery

On the north side of College, east of Spadina, the bike lane ends as the road narrows. On the South side we see the bike lane makes the perfect place to park or wait for your next fare:

Double Parked

Even when not parked in the bike lane vehicles pose a risk… watch out for the “door prize”:

Door Prize

Just because you’re making deliveries in the bike lane doesn’t mean cyclists can get by you… you just make it more dangerous to do so:

Another Delivery

Another delivery truck, another squeeze out for cyclists:

Brown Truck Blues

Delivery trucks could use empty parking spaces, but, since they don’t buy parking permits they could get a ticket, better stick to the bike lane:

This Truck Gets Around

As we continue our trip we see things get back to normal:

More Bikes in the Bike Lane

Parallel parking also poses a risk. Sure, it is a temporary risk that does come with the added benefit that cars are equipped with reverse lights, so you know they’re coming. I assume this car was waiting to park:

Backing Up?

But after we pass by and look behind us, the car is still there and the way is perfectly clear. Possibly they are just very slow parallel parkers… hopefully:

Still There

On the south side it looks like a biker has met with a cyclist:

A different kind of bike

Is this a stand-off? I’m not sure what’s going on here, but that biker is quickly outnumbered:

Blocked!

And I bet you thought only parcel delivery trucks used the bike lane… All cube-shaped trucks are welcome of course:

The Bell Tolls

And just a few more metres beyond Euclid, it’s delivery time:

Purolator... PuroNow

And then we reach the end of the bike lane as College narrows and on-street parking is a must:

The End

For cyclists using the College Street bike lane, I’m certain that the above images come as no surprise.  The fact that the Google Street View car was able to capture this many bike lane parkers in such a brief amount of time shows just how prevalent this illegal activity is.

Strict Liability – Drivers Become Responsible Around Vulnerable Road Users

Obviously, this doesn’t exist in Canada.

Edit: Apparently, this does exist in Ontario LINK Thanks to Kevin Love for the link in the comments.

Here’s the text at the end of the video:

UK is only one of four Western European countries that doesnt have ‘strict liability’ to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

Strict liability entitles a crash victim to compensation unless the driver can prove the cyclist or pedestrian was at fault.

Strict liability encourages more careful driving (and cycling, because a cyclist would be deemed to be at fault for crashing into a pedestrian).

Via Copenhagenize

When a bike lane needs to be more than just paint

bike lane potholes

City cyclists know the horrors of the Sherbourne bike lane. Those opposed to the Jarvis revitalization point to this street to the east where they believe adequate cycling infrastructure is unused. It is being used, by delivery trucks as temporary parking. If any piece of cycling infrastructure in Toronto is an example of why paint does not make a bike lane, it is this stretch of torn up, crumbling and downright dangerous pavement. I’d much rather take my commuter through the advanced trails in the Don Valley than have to risk being tossed around on this stretch of road.

While city councilors and mayoral candidates may believe that bike lanes are not safe, they seem to be basing their opinions on the poor examples barely taking up space on our roads today. But, this point isn’t going unnoticed, as an article in the Natoinal Post points out:

City’s bike lanes need revamp: advocates

Alan Heisey, a Toronto lawyer and former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, has been cycling in the city for 35 years, but he is against bike lanes. That is, he says that the current bike lanes — a strip of paint at the side of the road — simply aren’t safe.

“The bike lane ends up making the street more dangerous than if it wasn’t there because it gives the impression of safety,” Mr. Heisey said. “It forces bicyclists who are in the lane legally to swerve around the cars that are parked illegally.”

The solution to this, he says, is separated bike lanes.

9th Avenue bike lane Manhattan

In Toronto, poor surface conditions and improper use by motor vehicles combine to make our existing bike lanes unsafe. While I fully encourage the creation of separated bike lanes, I’d also like to see governments addressing the selfish attitudes that result in motorists ignoring and abusing infrastructure. The Toronto Cyclists Union is pushing for this change as they propose updates to the Motorists Handbook used as a primary teaching tool for new drivers.

1st Photo of Sherbourne Bike Lane via Torontoist.com taken 3 years ago (street condition remains the same today)

2nd Photo of 9th Avenue Bike Lane in New York City via NYCBikeMaps

A Pro Skateboarder’s Lesson for Cyclists and Bad Drivers

thumbs down

Are you on Twitter?

I am… and you can follow me here: @DuncansCityRide

Over the past few months I’ve started following cyclists, bike companies and a dozen or so interesting people on Twitter. While I try not to get sucked in to the 140 character messages and start following every account I find, I’ve come across some great new cycling products and ideas on Twitter.
A few days ago, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk sent this tweet:

@tonyhawk thumb down gesture @ bad driver more effective than a middle finger – a bad review instead of a hostile scream.

While I try to keep my cool when an over-caffeinated driver is honking at me from their SUV because I’ve chosen to take the lane on a dodgy strip of road, it’s possible for even the most zen of us to lose our cool.
I do find that eye contact often ends the honks, yet there are times when I feel more of a message must be sent to end the situation. That’s when a thumbs down could come in handy.
Of course, any gesture can be taken as an act of aggression, so use it wisely. No one likes to hear when they’re at fault and when those people are behind the wheel of a 2-ton beast, you don’t need to egg them on any further.
If you want to find more cycling-related Twitter accounts, then check out the people and companies I’m following @DuncansCityRide
Photo from Flickr account of DinahSaysNothing