Finally the media and the cops take notice!
Bike lane backlash
Cop spotted by Sun parked illegally to get his lunch gets dressing down from superiors
By BRYN WEESE, SUN MEDIA
Last Updated: 24th November 2009, 8:24am
A Toronto Police officer who parked his cruiser in a bike lane to get his lunch is getting no love from his superiors, who are coming down hard on his "stupid" and "unacceptable" actions.
On Sunday,the Sun witnessed a city cop sitting inside the Grillway Cafe, at Runnymede Rd. and Annette St., while his cruiser was blocking a bike lane on Annette.
The officer was parked there for at least 20 minutes before leaving the cafe with a can of pop and a paper lunch bag.
But instead of protecting their own, Toronto Police brass called the officer's parking actions "stupid" and "unacceptable."
Last week, cycling advocates brought the issue of blocking bike lanes for non-emergency reasons to the attention of the Toronto Police Services Board, which asked Chief Bill Blair to examine the issue.
"That's not kosher at all. It's right in our procedures that, outside of exigent circumstances, you do not park illegally, and that includes in bike lanes," said Sgt. Tim Burrows, of the force's traffic services department. He added higher-ups at the force were "incensed" when they heard about the Annette St. incident.
"It's very unfortunate that the officer decided to do this, but from the top on down, it's something that will not be tolerated," he insisted.
Residents said yesterday it's not unusual for officers to park illegally in the bike lane while they get some food at the popular Grillway.
"They're parked there quite often," said Orest Zakydalsky, who lives a few doors from the cafe. His mother and aunt were both dinged with $60 tickets for blocking the bike lane on the day city management posted bike lane signs without warning during the civic strike.
"I think it's a bit strange that the very people who are giving us tickets for parking in the bike lane do it themselves whenever they feel like it," Zakydalsky said.
Staff Insp. Peter Lennox, who runs 11 Division where the officer is from, said he would be issuing a division-wide communique "right away" reminding officers they can't block bike lanes, or otherwise park illegally, except in specific situations.
"All things being equal, we expect them to follow the same laws as everybody else," Lennox said. "I'm going to make sure people know that that's not to be done.
"They can park legally along with everyone else when they go into not only the Grillway, but anywhere else in the division."
Lennox said it's "possible" the officer who blocked the bike lane will face a reprimand, but not without an internal investigation.
Former police services board chairman Alan Heisey urged current members Thursday to start a ticketing blitz against bike lane blockers.
Yvonne Bambrick, the executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union, also raised concerns about the issue with the board last week, calling for the province to double the $60 fine for parking in a bike lane.
Her association also wants the city's emergency services to use common sense when it comes to blocking bike lanes.
"It happens all the time," she said. "We totally understand their need when they are working, but when they're having lunch, or whatever, find a side street or a parking space.
By the numbers
- 112 km of bike lanes (410 km of additional bike lanes planned over the next five years).
- 138 km of shared roadways
- 168 km of off-road bike paths
- $60 fine for parking in a bike lane
- 198 tickets issued by Toronto Police to drivers for parking in a bike lane during the one-week safe cycling blitz in Jul