The bike lane on Queen’s Quay at Bathurst has always been a parking lot. This lane, connecting directly to the Martin Goodman Trail to the west, is bordered by condos, townhomes and a park. The condo tower on the corner of Bathurst and Queen’s Quay contains a small grocery store, one that constantly receives deliveries from large trucks who use the lane as their own private loading zone. Next to the store is the condo entrance, and at all times of the day you’re likely to find a cab or car idling, waiting for someone exiting the building.
What I’m describing above could in fact be any bike lane in Toronto. The current (and building) resentment by non-bicycle riders towards bike lanes is best represented by the overwhelming number of vehicles idling, driving and often parked in Toronto bicycle lanes.
However, something has changed at the foot of Bathurst Street and this change has translated into cabbies using the Queen’s Quay bike lane as a spot to queue. With the introduction of Air Canada flights to the Island Airport, no doubt the increased taxi idling is a direct result of greater air traffic at the airport.
Where there was typically just one or two (and far too many at that) cars and trucks in the bike lanes has turned into more than a dozen cabs, some idling, some with their engines off and occupants out chatting.
The above photo was taken on the morning of Wednesday, April 4, 2012. Frustrated, I called the police to report the cabs. Toronto City Council recently voted to increase the fine for bike lane parkers, yet just last year Toronto Police Services stated that they are impotent in enforcing the law.
Seconds after hanging up the phone with the police dispatcher a symphony of horns started roaring from the idling cabs. Do the cabbie dispatchers monitor Toronto police radio? Is this something that happens in 2012 or am I stuck in a 1980s ham-radio TV reality?
While a few of the cabs pulled forward and one drove off, another 3 quickly replaced them just as a police car arrived. The officer proceeded to park in the intersection of Bathurst and Queen’s Quay and direct the cabbies toward the airport.
I assumed the officer may line the cabs up on Bathurst and begin writing tickets. While the officer did move his vehicle from the intersection and spoke with one cabbie, the others quickly disappeared or joined the long queue near the airport and I did not see the officer write a single ticket.
I confronted one remaining cabbie parked in the bike lane, telling him to move because the cop was writing tickets, he resisted but when I pointed to the parked cop he finally moved.
But what happens now? I expect the cabs will return and Toronto Police, whose bike cops I have witnessed use this bike lane while ignoring cars parked there, will have to be called by concerned citizens to simply issue warnings.
Why am I so pessimistic? Because as I proceeded along Queen’s Quay I found an officer parked in the bike lane at Yonge, his car idling, chatting on the phone. While emergency services are exempt from parking laws, using a bike lane as a phone call lane seems like an abuse of this power to me.
How can you help?
If you see a vehicle illegally blocking a bike lane you can call 416-808-6600 to alert the Toronto Police’s Parking Enforcement Division, so that they can dispatch an officer.