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What exactly are the rules of the bike lane in Toronto?

Posted by Chris Bateman / June 10, 2014

bike lane torontoThe rules of the Toronto bike lane are, let's face it, unclear. Judging from a recent helmet cam video circulated on YouTube, most cyclists don't know which vehicles are legally allowed to be stopped or parked in the bike lane. Contrary to popular belief, even dedicated bike lanes aren't off-limits to all motorized vehicles.

The lack of clearly posted rules is coupled with a dearth of visible enforcement--fines range from $60 to $150 for most bike lane infractions, but the biggest scofflaws--delivery van drivers and moving companies, judging from angry tweets--seem able to dodge enforcement officers with relative ease, increasing the sense of frustration from cyclists.

Coming straight from the City of Toronto bylaw, here are the rules of the Toronto bike lane. Note that the rules differ slightly for painted and separated bike lanes, like on Sherbourne and Wellesley.


Only bicycles and e-bikes are permitted to use on-street, painted cycle lanes in Toronto, except for in a few unusual circumstances. Ambulances, police or fire service vehicles, or any other vehicles actively engaged in responding to an emergency, are exempt from parking, driving, and operating rules, so are active city, TTC, and public utility -- water, hydro, sewer maintenance -- vehicles. Everyone else has to stay out.

At the approach to intersections, turning vehicles are permitted to move over and occupy the bike lane.


Vehicles loading or unloading a person with a disability, school buses picking up or dropping off kids, and, yes, taxis collecting or depositing passengers are all allowed to stop in the bike lane. No vehicles are permitted to drive for more than 45 metres in a bicycle-only part of the street marked with paint, however.


Only pedal-powered bicycles are permitted to use separated bike lanes. Wheel-Trans vehicles operated or licensed by the TTC are allowed to use the track area for loading and unloading passengers. Emergency response vehicles, City of Toronto vehicles, or vehicles parked as part of public utility work are similarly exempt from the rules.


No vehicle (except the ones listed above) is allowed to stop in a separated bike lane. Not taxis, not delivery vehicles, not moving vans. In fact, the only time a vehicle is allowed to pass through a separated lane is when the driver is accessing a driveway, parking lot, laneway, or side street.


On Sherbourne and Roncesvalles, the bike lane cuts directly in front of several TTC stops. When a bus or streetcar is waiting with its doors open, cyclists must wait at least two metres back from the rear doors and allow passengers to enter or exit.


Any person operating an unauthorized vehicle in the bike lane, contrary to the rules set out in the city bylaw, is subject to a fine of $150.00. Illegally parking or stopping in a bike lane or separated lane also attracts a fine of $150.00.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo by Xander Labayen in the blogTO Flickr pool



Rules / June 10, 2014 at 06:18 pm
I bike everyday in the summer and fall. My best advice on "RULES" is treat your bike as a vehicle. A delicate vehicle at that. A lot of people complain about cars and trucks veering into the bike lane or parking in them but you know they weigh a ton and you weigh 180lb at most, they're gonna win in a collision. Stop at stop signs, obey traffic give cars the right of way and there space. It's important all us bikers get home safe so we can bitch on BlogTo comment sections.
exactly replying to a comment from Rules / June 10, 2014 at 06:43 pm
you nailed it
Rafa replying to a comment from Rules / June 10, 2014 at 06:47 pm
Exactly - no point in being "dead right".
Kate / June 10, 2014 at 06:49 pm
"At the approach to intersections, turning vehicles are permitted to move over and occupy the bike lane."

Thank you! Might also note when bicycles should use the car lanes - especially when making left hand turns - this should be done from the left lane - bicycles should not turn left from a bicycle lane in front of traffic. Had this happen to me twice last week from cyclists who were wearing racing gear and should have known better.
bill / June 10, 2014 at 06:59 pm
Now I understand why police, ems, city owned vehicles take their coffee, lunch and dinner breaks while parked in bike lanes. All they have to do is say they are responding to urgent business.
pennyForAsking replying to a comment from Kate / June 10, 2014 at 07:05 pm
"At the approach to intersections, turning vehicles are permitted to move over and occupy the bike lane."

A baffling rule, considering that most cycling fatalities occur at intersections - can someone explain why this would be seen to be safer? (Why not just encroach on the pedestrian path as well, to ratchet up the 'safety quotient' even further?)
K. replying to a comment from pennyForAsking / June 10, 2014 at 07:31 pm
This is to discourage bikes from getting in the right blind spot of a car turning right. I see a lot of near misses when a car gives up too much room on the right and some cyclist tries to squeeze through. This is very dangerous since usually the drivers attention is focused on cars crossing the intersection from the left or pedestrians crossing the street, or obstacles around the corner. Basically looking anywhere but the right blind spot. As a cyclist, passing a turning car on the right is asking to get run over. Just stop and wait, or if you really have to, pass the right-turning car on the left.
Zi replying to a comment from pennyForAsking / June 10, 2014 at 07:32 pm
Intersections are dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians because auto drivers are not obeying the laws. Basically for right turning vehicles, they have to respect who's right of way it is. Is there another vehicle in front of you? If so, do you swerve around that vehicle and cut that vehicle off to turn right? No, of course not. That is dangerous. Does it matter if the vehicle is a car, van, bicycle or fully loaded dump truck? No but cyclists tend to get the shaft. I've experienced drivers race to get ahead of me mere feet from an intersections and then nearly right hook me. I've had drivers at red lights turn right and nearly plow thru people walking across the street. Just because the car is bigger than a bike and people, it doesn't mean cars have instant right of way. I've asked drivers "what do you think of people who walk on the sidewalk and purposely walk into other people or push them off the sidewalk?". They always say "that's wrong". I point out that a car is only occupying the space it is presently in for a brief moment and the person driving it doesn't have the right to just crash into others to save time or energy or from a lack of decency.
ML / June 10, 2014 at 07:46 pm
Thank you for posting the article.

I am a person with a very visible physical disability whose house is right by a bike lane. While it is perfectly legal for friends/family, Wheel-Trans and taxis to load and unload me in the bike lane, I cannot count the amount of times that cyclists have rang their bell or shouted at said drivers. Usually I end up yelling at the cyclists because I am the PwD and the taxi/Wheel-Trans drivers like to avoid unnecessary confrontation.
If your concerned about your safety then... / June 10, 2014 at 07:58 pm
If your concerned about your safety as a cyclist in Toronto then rule #1 is on yourself to NOT RIDE WITH EARBUDS OR HEADPHONES ON! Do not cut off your hearing senses that your mind is body is used to having access to.
Ray / June 10, 2014 at 08:11 pm
What part of single file do cyclist not get? I'm an avid cyclist, have ridden for 4 decades and even raced a few years in the Ontario Cup series. Why does everyone need to be upfront and first in the intersection? What is the obsession? If you see a car and/or a cyclist already in first position at the light, why do you need to go ahead of the motor vehicle and cyclist that were already waiting there? You are putting yourself, the other cyclists, and the driver of the motor vehicle in danger although you scream as soon as someone cuts you off or squeezes you out. Most good cyclists wait in the single file cue. Seems like a lot of the slow riders and amateur single speed riders that need to move right up to the front.

As an experienced rider I know that if I need to, in most cases I can fly past you if I'm in 2nd position or 10th position at a light, its my riding skills NOT my disrespect to everyone else by moving to first position at a stop light while others have been waiting minutes already. Where else would this be acceptable? At a movie theatre in line? NOPE! At a fast food restaurant? NOPE wait your turn! Inline to buy concert and sporting tickets? NOPE. Toronto Island Ferry? Nope wait your turn.

What is self righteousness? Are you the same person that must get a seat on the TTC? What happens if you let someone else have the seat for a change? What happens if you hold back in line at an intersection? Probably less stress. You don't see cars going in front of each other at a stop. Why do cyclists feel the need to be right up front? Because you think you have a better bike? Because you think you deserve to be upfront even though you were the last one to arrive? So 3-4 cyclists have to race each other across the intersection to try and be the first one, but all your skill levels are the same so it takes 200 feet before someone gets out front meanwhile the car behind you all is waiting for you to go back to single file so they can get to the speed limit they have the right to go.
Ray replying to a comment from Zi / June 10, 2014 at 08:13 pm
Cyclists tend to put themselves in the shaft position by not waiting in line and getting 4 cyclists grouped together at the intersection when the car was there first. Show respect if you expect it back. If you disrespect the other cyclists and drivers on the road by breaking the rules when its convienent for you - then you get the shaft and don't cry about it.
Ray - avid cyclist replying to a comment from bill / June 10, 2014 at 08:18 pm
A bicycle has steering and handlebars for a reason. I'm sure you can steer around a parked vehicle the same way you can turn yourself the wrong way down a way way, or onto a sidewalk when its convenient for you.

Stopped vehicles along the street affect cars and cyclists but its a little unrealistic to think a business is not going to get deliveries in front of the business. What do you think a delivery truck should park blocks away and then walk to the delivery? I guess in the same logic we should put bike lanes in the not so convenient routes out of the way and force you to ride on them only so you can be away from the traffic and deliveries.
Guy replying to a comment from K. / June 10, 2014 at 08:27 pm
"As a cyclist, passing a turning car on the right is asking to get run over."

It's not just asking for it, it's ILLEGAL you dorks. Read the MTO guide on cycling. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE are bicycles to undertake a vehicle signalling a right hand turn. Got it? Want to stop getting squished? Read the rules of the road.
Sean / June 10, 2014 at 08:30 pm
You are so correct Ray. Thanks.
Charles replying to a comment from Guy / June 10, 2014 at 08:51 pm
Agreed. Pass a turning car on the left of it, and if your slightly timid and resistant, then thats OK wait behind the car to complete the turn then go. If your not confident enough to steer around the car on the left you are crazy foolish to try and squeeze through on the right when you know very well the have a signal on, car is angled to make the turn and the driver is watching all the other cars and the intersection and not only watch you the entire time your riding.
Reg replying to a comment from Ray - avid cyclist / June 10, 2014 at 08:54 pm
So true. If you can't handle steering around a car in downtown Toronto then you probably shouldn't be riding a bike in downtown Toronto OR you should be choosing an alternate route that take you down side streets and alleyways.
dudeguydude / June 10, 2014 at 09:03 pm
there should be a rule for the people who bike super slow but always want to be at the front on a red light...making everyone have to pass said slow biker again & again & again.
dudeguydude replying to a comment from dudeguydude / June 10, 2014 at 09:05 pm
Ray said it way better.
angry biker / June 10, 2014 at 09:09 pm
I find it near impossible to have a pleasant bike ride anywhere in Toronto these days. Cars honk and yell at you when your on the right side of the road, pedestrians freak if your on the sidewalk for 1 minute. Then when we finally do have the chance for a bike lane, it is full of other cars so we can't even use it the way the lane was intended!!
So much for having a cheaper/better for the environment ride to work.
Dogma / June 10, 2014 at 09:19 pm
Quiet rant:
The city had the option of upgrading the bike lanes (aka keeping them) on Jarvis or Sherbourne. Jarvis had the space with that wacky fifth lane business and no bus route. But instead the city picked Sherbourne thus ensuring that bus riders and cyclists are going to be competing for space.

Bike Boxes replying to a comment from Ray / June 10, 2014 at 09:29 pm
Hi Ray,

There are some exceptions to your rant:
sweet2th / June 10, 2014 at 09:42 pm
I both cycle and drive and when cycling, I never pass a car on the right side that has signaled a right turn - whether I'm in a bike lane or not. If I want to pass a car turning instead of waiting behind until he/she completes the turn, I pass on the outside if clear, not the inside. As a driver, it makes me crazy that bicyclists pass on the inside lane when I've already signaled a right turn and as a cyclist, it makes me crazy when other cyclists curse out a driver who is in the process of making a turn and whiz pass in the inside lane. A cyclist who sees a car ahead signalling a turn should stop behind the car rather than accelerate speed to pass inside, just like a person in a car is expected to do.
Kn / June 10, 2014 at 09:43 pm
Most downtown cyclists don't know what a stop sign is, or a one way street, or what to do when streetcar doors are open... most cyclists also think it's smart to pass a car on the right, while the car is turning right, with their signal indicating they are turning right. No lights at night for 80-90% of cyclists, no helmets for most. So it's no surprise most cyclist haven't a clue of any legal nuances of a bike lane.
Ray replying to a comment from Bike Boxes / June 10, 2014 at 10:02 pm
Yes that rule applies as the write up says on intersections where a physical painted bike box exists. You can't just make one up at any light you like. There are clear indicators for cyclists and drivers when a bike box is painted on the road.'

Also there are some basic internet rules. If you linking me to a .pdf at least tell me before I click and start downloading a document when I thought in 2014 I was going to a website. Ohh well just a little bit of MY data plan to get your point across, ohh well.
Zi replying to a comment from sweet2th / June 10, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Passing a car that's signalled a right hand turn ahead of you is crazy.

I wait my turn in a line up of cars and I've seen plenty of cyclist who refuse. I agree cyclists have to accept, respect, and follow the road laws. It would be awesome if car drivers did too.
Michael replying to a comment from Guy / June 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm
In March of 2009 I was riding to work on fine Monday morning. I used to live in The Beach and work at Bay and Richmond. I used Dundas (bike lane, no street car, no buses). As I approached a red light at Jones I slowed down, there were three cars in front of me all to my left. None had a turn signal on, all three had wheels aimed straight and true.

Light turns green, I start hammering, I've got a little down hill, might as well use it.

First vehicle goes straight, no problem. Second vehicle, a grey Ram pickup truck yanks to the right, to my shock (still no signal I notice as I slam into the side of the vehicle).

Question, am I at fault for failing to notice the signal the driver never bothered to use? Or is it the use of a bike lane when someone *might* turn right without warning?

I do agree, at lights, don't try to undertake cars that are turning, but on the other hand, (and I notice this all the time when I'm driving too) motorists in GTA don't seem to know what a turn indicator is for. Until the police really crack down on all the people who cannot be bothered to signal a lane change or a turn, bike lanes (even bike trails that go between the road and the sidewalk, i.e. Eglinton around Royal York) are really quaint parking zones to my thinking.
Kris / June 10, 2014 at 10:42 pm
God I hate E-bikes. They aren't bikes if you aren't using the pedals.
Ben replying to a comment from Rules / June 10, 2014 at 11:06 pm
So . . . why are you saying people have no right to complain about those things? Of course, be careful and stay alive, but taking video, noting incidents, and yeah, complaining is part of the solution, not the problem!
Mohammed / June 10, 2014 at 11:07 pm
Just a quick reminder to all the bike riders in the city,(I ride a tricycle and drive when needed)... it's a brilliant idea that of promoting cyclist friendly environment considering parking prices and conveniency. However, cyclist needs to be more aware of rules and regulation and be careful of oncoming vehicles and cars (yes the responsibility is on you as much as on us). On numerous occasions, especially around university and Dundas I had cyclists trying to run me over because they want to make the right turn before any pedestrians get down to walk across. Same goes for driving (biker scraped the paint of my car and then complained that I damaged his bike because I had the right of way to go left and he didn't see it and then rode away). I had people that nearly fell because bike messenger guys would weave through pavement. The road is for all citizens and it would be great if cyclist would learn to share and be aware.
Ben replying to a comment from Ray / June 10, 2014 at 11:08 pm
Oh come on. How much data did that PDF take of your precious data plan? Rules on the Internet are even harder to enforce than rules among cyclists I would say.
Ahhh / June 10, 2014 at 11:14 pm
Tell me again why I like Fries Supreme at Taco Bell?
Told ya soooo replying to a comment from Ahhh / June 10, 2014 at 11:20 pm
Poison - open up and say ahh!
Jo l. / June 10, 2014 at 11:24 pm
Treat your bike like vehicle, therefore a cyclist shouldn't be arguing with us pedestrians walking on sidewalk when they are riding on there, especially when there was an actual bike lane on Danforth Bridge
Ray.....For the win!!!!!! replying to a comment from Ben / June 10, 2014 at 11:24 pm
You can call them rules, OR common courtesy!

Brandon Atkinson / June 10, 2014 at 11:31 pm
Thanks for the article, this answered some questions I had.
Clint replying to a comment from Zi / June 10, 2014 at 11:33 pm
Glad to see you second point.

I see far more cyclists than drivers in the wrong when it comes to right turns.

But I agree I hate to see drivers dart in front of a cyclist to make a right turn. Let's all be a little more patient out there.

One other comment - unrelated to your point. Cyclists the respectful/right thing to do is to stop when a driver is parallel parking. Other drivers hate doing it as much as you do - but if you want to be treated like a vehicle follow the rules for vehicles.
Bo replying to a comment from Guy / June 10, 2014 at 11:39 pm
So true. I wish more cyclists understood that you cannot pass, a car turning right, on the right. This is especially bad at night when a huge number of bikes with no lights are on the roads.
Kev / June 10, 2014 at 11:54 pm
Yes AND lest we forget most are riding at night with the tiny lisght you can possibly find, black jeans, black bike, black shoes BUT I'm gonna yell at you for not seeing me....!!!!
Allan Harmsworth / June 11, 2014 at 12:11 am

"Only pedal-powered bicycles are permitted to use separated bike lanes."
The article contains an error about cycle tracks (separated bike lanes). Toronto has changed the definition of bicycle to include ebikes that are pedelecs weighing 40 kg or less, thus these type of ebikes are allowed. Ebikes that are not pedelecs or weigh more than 40 kg. are not allowed. It is not clear in the article that tricycles and unicycles that are pedal powered are also allowed in the cycle tracks. Typical Toronto making things more complicated than they have to be.
rules replying to a comment from Ben / June 11, 2014 at 01:13 am
People have every right to complain but all I'm saying is be safe. Whether a car makes mistake the bike is still in more danger. Complaining is not gonna create a solution because at the end of the day a car is bigger then a bike and has more protection, like a giant metal box. There are two outcomes in a bike/car accident 1) you die 2) you get really hurt but you may get some money..... eventually. Or you could just swallow your pride on the road and get home safe.
human replying to a comment from angry biker / June 11, 2014 at 01:32 am
Not to mention that should you use a left-hand turn lane to make a left-hand turn, cars spend the entire light honking at you because you can't make the same ballsy moves that they can. So I go straight with the pedestrian signals and wait on the sidewalk for the next green light - at which point pedestrians freak out because I'm "in their way".

To be honest, the upset pedestrians are more frustrating, because while on the road I sense that I'm holding up traffic as a mere cyclist, but as a bike simply waiting for the same light to change as the pedestrians I don't see what your panic is as I am literally stationary and have no bloody clue how I could incur harm upon you or your fellow pedestrians. As a cyclist, I feel in imminent danger sitting in an intersection waiting for a space between speeding cars coming at me while the cars behind me want to ram me over in the interest of saving 45 seconds.
If your concerned about your safety then... / June 11, 2014 at 06:36 am
If your concerned about your safety as a cyclist in Toronto then rule #1 is on yourself to NOT RIDEk WITH EARBUDS OR HEADPHONES ON! Do not cut off your hearing senses
bill replying to a comment from Ray - avid cyclist / June 11, 2014 at 07:28 am
The same people that drive cars ride bikes. They all bring a pompous know it all attitude to the discussion. So desperate are they to get their point across they ignore what is being referenced.
Drivers are not he only people that turn me off from riding my bike those that cycle also do so.
SDl / June 11, 2014 at 08:31 am
Fellow cyclists are sometimes the most terrible on the road. The other day, another cyclist yelled at me for being too close to her at a stop light. I wasn't. We're all out here with the same goals- avoiding public transit. Let's stop being so testy with one another.
Ismail Aboulnaga / June 11, 2014 at 08:55 am
Thank you "Rules" for your advices on bikeing rules.
Potrzebie / June 11, 2014 at 09:07 am
Reading through these comments, I'm reminded of how much happier I am since I stopped riding daily and began using my bike for pleasure cruises only.

The angriest people in Toronto seem to be the ones on two wheels.

Be careful out there, friends.
mike in parkdale / June 11, 2014 at 09:25 am
here's a 'rule' that comes from my years of motorcycling:

Left side - passing side
Right side - suicide

(in short, never pass someone on the right side or you'll end up in a really bad spot, and there's no one to blame but yourself)
girlpublisher replying to a comment from dudeguydude / June 11, 2014 at 09:44 am
dudeguydude said: "there should be a rule for the people who bike super slow but always want to be at the front on a red light...making everyone have to pass said slow biker again & again & again."

I also often see slower cyclists blow through the T-stop red lights on College and then I catch up and have to pass, etc.

Every time you pass a bike in a bike lane you have to move out closer to, or into, car lanes. Think about your fellow cyclists! I am often the slow one, and I just hang back when I catch up at a light, because what is the point of getting to the front! There are no prizes being handed out!
Ben replying to a comment from Ray.....For the win!!!!!! / June 11, 2014 at 09:57 am
Raymundo: I don't know what last century browser you use but when I click a PDF link it opens in a page on my brower. If I want to download it I can do that afterwards. I suggest you upgrade your software lest you live in fear of downloading PDF's accidentally
Svej replying to a comment from ML / June 11, 2014 at 09:59 am
I do agree people should respect you when passing and not shout at you, but some bikers use their bells as a warning like "hello I am passing, please be cautious" and may not intend to be aggressive. Bicycles can be quiet and people may not see/hear them coming, so the bell warns others of the bicyclists presence, so that they don't unexpectedly step in front of the bike.
Ben replying to a comment from rules / June 11, 2014 at 10:00 am
Right! I think I get you. Complaining is not going to save your life on the daily bike ride. BUT it's useful in drawing attention to the problems, possibly getting people talking and maybe encouraging policy changes that could result in safer conditions all around for cyclist and motorists alike.
Anthony replying to a comment from Ray / June 11, 2014 at 10:20 am
As a long time cyclist I can not agree with you more. We need to remember we are part of traffic not exclusive of it.
Ride safe, ride smart, ride on.
kyle / June 11, 2014 at 10:23 am
Rules are nothing without enforcement and when those who are supposed to do the enforcement are violating the rules themselves, well, as you can we have a problem.
Paul / June 11, 2014 at 10:25 am
What about those bike lanes like the ones on Dundas East that appear to be shared between motorist and cyclist?
Protagitron replying to a comment from ML / June 11, 2014 at 10:29 am
Just wanted to get in a quick mention that bell-ringing is not always because the cyclist is pissed off at you. Sometimes they just want to be safe and make sure that no one darts in front of them, or opens the door if clearance or visibility isn't great. I use mine frequently when passing other cyclists to make sure they know I'm there, and while passing stopped cars or buses in case the driver or a pedestrian is coming around the front and can't see me. I will also give enough space while biking around the vehicle that there shouldn't be a collision, but the bell is an insurance policy.

Anyway, I'm sorry some cyclists were jerks and yelled at you. They were wrong. But in case any of the cyclists ringing their bells were me, I wanted to explain the reasoning behind it wasn't just to be a dick.
W. K. Lis / June 11, 2014 at 10:30 am
At this time of year, school is winding down. Field trips are the norm. Fill in lessons (IE. scripting, penmanship, etc.) are being done. The schools should at least do bicycle instruction and rules of the road for bicycles (and pedestrians), for the children.

Get the kids to bring their bicycles to school for the day. Give them instruction. Hand out makeshift "bicycle handbooks".
Paul replying to a comment from Paul / June 11, 2014 at 10:31 am
I think I found my answer...

They are called sharrows
Protagitron replying to a comment from Svej / June 11, 2014 at 10:31 am
Whoops, somehow missed this comment. It said exactly what I wanted to say, but in a less run-on sort of way. Kudos, Svej!
Rules replying to a comment from Ben / June 11, 2014 at 10:35 am
Policy changes????????.... Hahhahahaah. You do know what city you live in? These people at. City hall have never made a positive policy change in a decade.
Jeff replying to a comment from Rules / June 11, 2014 at 10:52 am
Yes only thing council can agree on is their own pay increases and days off.

Councillors vote to get off early on Election Day
mel / June 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm
I have been hit 3 times by cyclists. Once when exiting a streetcar and twice when crossing at a 3 way stoplight (they kept riding through the red light along the curb), when I was allowed to do so.I agree everyone needs to obey the rules of the road, but as a pedestrian, I find cyclists are worse for obeying pedestrian right of way. I had many close encounters with cars, but have only been hit 3 times by a cyclist.
Regq replying to a comment from mel / June 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm
True. I find it terrible annoying when cyclists go through and past the street car when the doors are open. I always wait behind the doors on my bike.

ALSO a good note for pedestrians at a TTC stop - the street car is coming the doors will open for you. The open doors are the stop sign, if the doors aren't open don't start waling out into the lane as cyclists can still pass until the doors actually open. People that start walking out early don't have the right of way.
sgm / June 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm
I understand that it is difficult for cars attempting to turn right to have to deal with a long line of bicycles to pass them on the right. Apparently, we are told that cars have the right of way and we, as cyclists, should pass on the left, which I try to do as often as possible. No problem. The problem occurs when the cars immediately behind the turning car, inch up so close that it is impossible for cyclists to then get around on the left. If they were to leave even a few feet, cyclists could use the left hand side leaving the car to turn right. But instead, we are supposed to defer to the car and wait patiently while they wait for pedestrians to cross the bike lane and turn right. Does this seem reasonable and like sound transportation policy? No not really. Not if the aim is to keep as much traffic moving as possible. Most of the strife between motorists and cyclists is as a result of bad infrastructure and bad behaviour on the part of both motorists and cyclists. Seeing as the infrastructure is not going to change any time soon, there has to be mutual respect. If you want cyclists to pass on the left when a car is turning right, leave room behind the car so that we can do this and keep as many people moving as possible.
Michael Caputo replying to a comment from Rules / June 11, 2014 at 12:40 pm
Well put! I think that if cyclists followed the rules of the road (the 'vehicle' rules), we would all benefit from being treated as partners on the road, and not some guy dangerously weaving through traffic.

To add to that, there are good and bad things that would come along with that type of designation.
mark / June 11, 2014 at 01:09 pm
Toronto should redesign their intersections, and get rid of right turn on red. So many conflicts could be solved by just getting rid of that one thing.
BikeMatt / June 11, 2014 at 01:52 pm
As Michael noted above, I am often nearly hit (thankfully I haven't been hit yet) by vehicles turning right without signalling. It has happened so often that I've altered my behavior when approaching an intersection behind or beside a vehicle - I now coast with my hands on the brakes expecting that EVERY vehicle is about to turn. A real nuisance but it's better than being hit!
Jess replying to a comment from mark / June 11, 2014 at 01:54 pm
Potentially yes in a better city that doesn't have so many issus BUT it would also decrease traffic flow. If no one can turn you hold up the whole line.
JamesVR replying to a comment from sgm / June 11, 2014 at 01:59 pm
You should always be looking about 20-30 feet ahead of you so your aware of whats happening and can find your line to turn. Yes I know car's signal late or not all all but you are approaching an intersection and need to be prepared.

So many cyclists in this city don't look past their front tire and need to turn or swerve last minute because they are reacting to an immediate issue instead of aggressively avoiding the situation all together.

I've cycled in this city for years, but still remember by vehicle driver training not to stare at the can ahead of you but beyond that.
BikeMatt / June 11, 2014 at 02:14 pm
Bottom line: motor vehicles, bikes and pedestrians are all people in motion. Problems arise when people behave unpredictably and ignorantly. Be considerate, follow the rules or at least common sense and please communicate/signal your intensions!
Dan / June 11, 2014 at 02:31 pm
Rules are rules, but as I can see everyday, most of drivers don't care much about them. So where is the problem? I had an idea to make a website where the bicucles would upload photos of vehicles stopped/parked in a bike lane and I made a few photos but I'm not sure if I it's legal to have a photo of a car, including the registration number publicly with no driver's permission. Does anybody know if it's legal?
BikeReb / June 11, 2014 at 02:51 pm
I would like to know about "Indirect" turning lanes. These can be found on the Sherbourne bike lane at Wellesley, Gerrard & Shuter. They a specially designated portion of the lane for bikes to turn left however I am unclear on how they work. Are they meant to be used under the same guidelines as a left hand lane for a car, whereby I turn left with the green light OR is it a place to wait, out of the way of pedestrians, until the light in the other direction turns green?
reality check / June 11, 2014 at 04:05 pm
Sgm, even if it sounds unreasonable its the law. Is saving a minute or so by not waiting for the car to complete the turn really worth life and limb? If and when passing a right turning vehicle from the left is not possible, just wait and take a moment to be thankful for everything in life you are able to enjoy and will keep enjoying by not being impatient.
tripper / June 11, 2014 at 04:31 pm
There will always be the hardcore, renegade gearheads who just don't give a shit what they do. Those people we can't change.

The real problem, I think, is with cycling newbies. People who take to the lanes for the first time and don't know what the rules and etiquette are. Or even that there ARE rules and etiquette. I see it every spring. Those are the people who, in my observation, are the ones who run red lights, don't stop for streetcars, and cycle in a generally dangerous and inconsiderate manner. They just don't know or realize how important it is for everyone to follow the same rules.

I recently witnessed a cop pull over one such young newbie cyclist who ran a red light on College St. during afternoon rush hour. She was practically in tears as he explained what she did wrong and how dangerous it was.

But instead of ticketing everyone in sight, there needs to be greater public education for cyclists and motorists alike. So everyone knows what's what and how to get along. It doesn't have to be this shitshow we currently have.
CyclistAndDriver replying to a comment from K. / June 11, 2014 at 04:50 pm
As per the government issued drivers handbook and law, right hand turning vehicles must yield to cyclists going straight in the curb lane. With that being said, if a car or truck is waiting and creeping out for a long time before you get there on a bicycle, a bit of politeness and understanding from the cyclist is in order.
Savannah replying to a comment from Zi / June 11, 2014 at 04:52 pm
With all due respect, I checked with Toronto Police and if a car is turning right at an intersection and a bicyclist approaches from behind, the cyclist does NOT have the right of way if proceeding straight.
Savannah replying to a comment from human / June 11, 2014 at 05:01 pm
As a pedestrian I've been hit by a cyclist - on my light - hard enough to knock me flying into a light pole, resulting in massive bruising and a serious concussion. There's a reason we don't trust cyclists.
Savannah replying to a comment from Regq / June 11, 2014 at 05:06 pm
Terribly annoying? It's illegal to pass a streetcar with open doors, cyclist or not.
Savannah replying to a comment from sgm / June 11, 2014 at 05:09 pm
"Does this seem reasonable?" Yes it does. Cyclists don't get some sort of special treatment when merging into other traffic. Passing on the right is illegal and if you can't merge safely to the left then you are meant to wait until you can, or you can continue straight. No one is required to let you merge, just like no one is required to let another car merge that wants to go around a vehicle turning right.

Infrastructure isn't the biggest problem here - it's cyclists like yourself that don't understand the basic rules of the road.
Savannah replying to a comment from Dan / June 11, 2014 at 05:13 pm
Would there be space on this website for shaming cyclists who don't signal, weave in and out of traffic, ride down the middle of lanes, ignore red lights and stop signs, and ride on sidewalks? Or are you just interested in shaming car drivers?
CyclistAndDriver replying to a comment from Savannah / June 11, 2014 at 05:13 pm
I have hit jay walkers, distracted walkers, and cyclists, in both a car and on a bicycle, and was not at fault. I have had cars hit me walking, biking, and I've been doored, again was not at fault. I have seen cars and bikes almost kill pedestrians, other drivers, and cyclists, and while not being at fault. There are groups of law breakers in every aspect of this discussion. We need police to blitz EVERYONE and seriously get people thinking about others safety while travelling. At least it is being discussed now, which is great, even with all of the blatant "I'm better than you" ignorance from each side.

Sidenote: lights and ringing your bell saves lives.

Joseph S. replying to a comment from ML / June 11, 2014 at 05:40 pm
Just so you know, not all cyclists ringing their bells are doing so out of anger. It's just a safety precaution to alert the driver and anyone who may be standing around the car that a bicyclist is passing, so they won't step out into the street or open the car door at that moment. At least, that's why I ring my bell.
ML / June 11, 2014 at 07:18 pm
To those that have replied thank you. However, the bell ringing and shouting have in my experience not been as a warning. I have one speed -- very visibly slow. There is no darting out in front of bikes. ;) Not all cyclists of course.

WRT getting hit by cyclists, I was hit by a bike messenger years ago outside Brookfield Place on Wellington (I was able bodied back then). He was going the wrong way on a one way street. Lights were red so no cars and after he knocked me on my ass, he yelled at ME like it was my fault.
Simon replying to a comment from human / June 11, 2014 at 08:10 pm
Making a proper left turn requires "ballsy moves"? Shoulder-check and merge into the left lane, position yourself appropriately, downshift, signal, and hit the gap when it appears. It only takes a few seconds. If you're at a light, get to the pole position ASAP so you can make your turn before oncoming traffic starts. It makes me nervous when cyclists pull namby pamby moves like crawling into the pedestrian crosswalk, because I never know what they'll do next. You and many other people crawl into the pedestrian crosswalk so they can crawl out of the pedestrian crosswalk going the other way to avoid making a left turn. However, I've seen a lot of other people crawl into the pedestrian crosswalk so they can continue crawling along the sidewalk, or even so they can make a u-turn or right turn. The only legitimate reason for a cyclist to enter the pedestrian crossing is if they intend to dismount on the other side. Otherwise, please stay visible and consistent in the centre of the appropriate lane. If I'm going forward through an intersection, I am completely mystified as to what this pedestrian crosswalk type is going to do. I have no idea whether they're going to wobble indiscriminately into my path. It's exactly like a pedestrian who wanders indiscriminately into the road, only this pedestrian is straddling a cruiser bike and completely dead to the world behind their headphones and giant sunglasses. Please, please, quit scaring me with this shit. If you can't keep it together long enough to read traffic and turn left, make 3 rights around the block instead of pulling some stunt that could get someone killed.
Keith / June 11, 2014 at 08:44 pm
I'm a musician and need to unload gear at clubs - takes maybe 5 mins if I can zip in front of the club and zip out. Couldn't I expect some tolerance around that? Apparently not! I don't think it's too much to ask especially if I give some slack on turns and all the other "asks" being referenced above. Can't we just share the roads together in a bit of give and take and circumstance? Pay it forward and all that ...
The Golem replying to a comment from Rules / June 11, 2014 at 09:10 pm
My number 1 rule when biking is: I do whatever is needed to stay safe.
Savannah replying to a comment from CyclistAndDriver / June 11, 2014 at 09:20 pm
With respect, I have never been hit by a car, but I've been hit by cyclists twice. Both times were because the cyclist blew through a red light or stop sign, including one that cut a car off turning right, only to hit me at the same time. My experience of being hit by vehicles only involves the two-wheeled kind.
big z / June 11, 2014 at 09:56 pm
Re: mel: "I have been hit 3 times by cyclists..." Mel, if you had been hit once by a car, you'd likely be unable to comment on the article. Survivorship bias?
Don't ride with earbuds in!! / June 11, 2014 at 11:54 pm
Rule #1 for safe bicycle riding in downtown Toronto: DON'T RIDE WITH EARBUDS IN.
Patrick replying to a comment from pennyForAsking / June 12, 2014 at 02:07 am
I ride an ebike every day. 50 km round trip. I used to do it through the city as well. I don't pass on the right unless it's heavy traffic jams ( this is one of the plusses of riding a bike ) and the reason cars must move over to the right to make a (signaled hopefully) right turn is so they are not cutting across the path of a bike. They must stay within 6" of the curb. Cyclists are permitted to pass to the left of these vehicles. This also increases visibility to oncoming traffic as well as traffic approaching from behind.
JustWantToBeSafeAndNotBotherAnyOne / June 12, 2014 at 11:07 am
In response to either waiting for a car who is turning right or passing on the left–

I bike on College, and in most cases it seems safer to just go with the flow of cyclists on the right side passing cars who have their indicator on to turn right, rather than stop, and have every cyclist behind you completely rip you apart, or weave to the left side of the car, while everyone else just stays on the right, so there is now cyclists on either side of the car.

I understand it's all about using your best judgement, but in this case are you still asking for trouble when you stay to the right?

Also, is it better for all cyclists to commit to turning left in the left lane, or to use the cross walks to get to that side?
pennyForAsking replying to a comment from Patrick / June 12, 2014 at 11:34 am
Seems like a great many gyrations to go through when all one wants to do is go straight - and can be a bit tricky around here with all the streetcar tracks and uneven surfaces.
Your ebike experiences sound long do you have to charge it to do 50 km daily? ...and which are the most reliable (or preferred) marques?
dee kay / June 12, 2014 at 12:36 pm
What do they consider a "separated bike track"?
Snailspace replying to a comment from bill / June 12, 2014 at 02:20 pm
This is the one that is open for some interpretation - I got into a real row with a boy in blue (shortly after the G20 fiasco, so granted, collars were hot) because he was parked, obviously napping, in a bike lane. "Actively" responding to an emergency should be lights flashing, full stop.
CCTO replying to a comment from pennyForAsking / June 12, 2014 at 04:18 pm
Snailspace, I'll bet your bafflement comes from the presumption that bike lanes have something to do with keeping cyclists safe. Most don't. They have everything to do with getting more people on bikes by making them *feel* safer. And also a lot to do with helping motorists expect bikes to be off to the side where they can be ignored.

(And also maybe a bit of an assumption that the people in the car have a little less right then we cyclists do to get where they're going? Also false.)

So when you see a car moving right to make a turn, rejoice. They're leaving you tons of room where you ought to be to get past them: on their left. Get out there with the rest of us. It's where we belong.
Jefferson / June 12, 2014 at 05:14 pm
Please ignore cyclistanddrivers claim that car drivers turning right must give the right of way to cyclist going thru the intersection. If a car is signalling to make a right hand turn, no vehicle (bike or otherwise) can pass them on the right. If you pass on the right you can be charged with "unsafe pass".
Jefferson / June 12, 2014 at 05:17 pm
When a vehicle ahead of you is stopped to make a right hand turn you have two options

1) , do the legal thing and pass on the left, or

2) do the smart/safe thing and slow down or stop until they make their turn then you can continue on your way
Joe / June 12, 2014 at 06:18 pm
Are there any rules about cyclists having to stop at stop signs? Just wondering.
Patrick replying to a comment from pennyForAsking / June 12, 2014 at 09:13 pm
I am now trekking from Kennedy and St. Clair to John and Bayview.
I leave fully charged of course and charge at work. I should be able to make the round trip on one charge...but why try? ☺

I used to go from Park Lawn and Queensway to Vic Park and St Clair.

When I was riding through the city, I would pass on the right. Traffic along Bloor can suck, but now I just stay in traffic to the right.
I tested my timing, AMD I only save 5 minutes on a 45 minute drive and that isn't worth the bad feelings from drivers around me.
ML replying to a comment from Joe / June 13, 2014 at 09:31 pm
Yes, they are supposed to stop at stop signs!
ML replying to a comment from dee kay / June 13, 2014 at 09:34 pm
See this for a separated bike lane diagram.
Jefferson / June 14, 2014 at 08:53 pm
Most bike lanes are separated from car traffic by a solid painted line. When you approach an intersection that solid line becomes dashed, meaning cars are entitled to enter that space to make a right turn. If you pass a car turning right you are breaking the law. How do I know? Years ago I was passing a large truck who was making a right turn. He did not see me and I had to jump off my bike and onto the sidewalk. My bike was crushed under the wheels. The truck driver stopped to check if I was okay. I called the cops who showed up in minutes. I thought the truck driver would be charged and maybe have to pay for killing my bike. Instead I got a ticket for Making an unsafe pass.
Paul / June 15, 2014 at 12:20 am
I've been a cyclist, motorist and pedestrian in Toronto for five years now and I think it is time for mandatory bike licenses. The amount of reckless driving done by cyclists is staggering. I don't know if it's because of a lack of knowledge or a laissez-faire attitude but I see so many cyclists; cruising through stop signs, driving the wrong way down one way streets, not stopping for streetcars, driving on the sidewalk etc. And the worst part about it is how self righteous they are. No one loves being outraged more than cyclists. It's a fucking mess out there.
Gint / June 16, 2014 at 11:46 am
None of this matters because Toronto cannot enforce any laws except for parking.
Stamatina / June 19, 2014 at 03:53 pm
It doesnt matter if there are any rules. I learned today the police officers dont give a damn about the bike lanes and safety of cyclists. I was pulled over on Bloor street and told to park my car over in the lane blocking the traffic and bike lane alike. As a result everyone had to move around me, as you can imagine this not being safe for anyone. While waiting for the police who were parked on the side street ahead, a cyclist spat on me. When I told the officer what happened the the disruption he had caused, he really didnt care.
Ronin / July 2, 2014 at 11:48 pm
They should review the 'Rules' again and try to re-assess. Revise to make it less confusing or totally eliminate.
Julie / July 3, 2014 at 11:32 am
What is the fine for a cyclist that hops onto the sidewalk to avoid stopping for buses? Happens EVERY DAMN DAY on Sherbourne.
Mike / July 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm
Just got back from Vancouver. If they can do protected bike lanes properly, so can Toronto. I saw BRIGHT GREEN painted sections along driveways and entrances so that a driver knows they are crossing a bike lane. I felt safe even riding through downtown. The bike signals are a nice to have too! Not really looking forward to biking in Toronto this week. I already miss the bike culture/lifestyle of only one week in Vancity.
the lemur / July 22, 2014 at 05:20 pm
Is there a rule, law or regulation that says you HAVE TO use the bike lane that is there, or can you ride outside (say, if you are going to make a left)?
Zabs / July 24, 2014 at 12:27 pm
If you see cars parked in the bike lane should you report them? Where do you do that? Should I take a picture? Everyday on my way to work on Richmond there are cars and delivery trucks stopped in the bike lane. Since this part of richmond is one way but the bikes go both ways its dangerous to weave into oncoming traffic to avoid these parked cars.
Allan Harmsworth replying to a comment from the lemur / July 25, 2014 at 08:32 pm
@the lemur A cyclist does not have to ride in the bike lane in Toronto. In certain circumstances they are allowed and indeed required to ride in the traffic lane, at other times required to keep riding as far to the right as practicable.
D / July 29, 2014 at 10:09 am
I wanted to know only one thing. How come the majority of cyclists do. Not think they should obey the most simple road rules such as stop sign and driving direction or do not enter.
Isn't it a safety issue? Who do you report to when there is such a problem looks like everybody knows to report on a car
lee replying to a comment from Ray / September 15, 2014 at 02:36 pm
haha @ Ray ever lamenting another's righteousness.
the lemur replying to a comment from D / September 15, 2014 at 04:39 pm
The majority? Have you performed a count or something? Or did you see some doing that and just generalize from there? You can certainly tell the police if you see it happening regularly at a particular stop sign or one-way street. The cops themselves tend to stake out the same intersections over and over if they're looking to bust cyclists for not making complete stops.
JO / September 26, 2014 at 11:06 pm
I'm a cyclist in Toronto and I am writing to apologize to a man in a car who yelled at me when I passed him on the right as he was trying to make a right turn on Dupont near Spadina today. The man yelled "Hey lady, you're supposed to pass on the left!" He had slowed down to allow a pedestrian to cross the road before he made his right turn, and I took advantage of his slowing to pass him on his right and go straight through the intersection.

I didn't realize that I should have either steered round to pass him on his left and head straight through the intersection, or slow down and let him turn right before I proceeded straight. I was already worked up by a sense of fear due to the terrible cycling conditions on Dupont in rush hour (let alone not during rush hour) and instead of respecting this driver, I sailed past him on his right and turned to give him a very rude sign. There was NO reason for me to do that and I immediately wish I hadn't.

I feel awful and guilty and ashamed. I am sorry I did that. I didn't know it's wrong to pass on the right, but after reading so many of these posts, it's now obvious.

I apologize to that driver. I truly hope that cyclists and motorists can get along well together on Toronto's streets, and I'm going to try my best to contribute to a better vibe. After this incident today, I'm definitely going to take it a bit more slowly out there on my bike, and have learned a valuable lesson.
Peter Parker replying to a comment from Ray / April 22, 2015 at 04:24 am
The letters PDF at the end of the URL might have been a good clue for you.
Mike / April 22, 2015 at 08:50 am
And then there's Sherbourne, which is classed as a "separated" cycle track despite being separated by nothing but paint south of Gerrard...
seymour butts replying to a comment from Rules / April 22, 2015 at 09:38 am
This is what I've been saying for years, and the first time I've ever heard another cyclist say the same thing. It's like I learned in motorcycle riding, "ride as if you're invisible" because it doesn't matter who has the right of way when the bigger vehicle will always win. I think far too many people ride as if "right of way" is some sort of cloak of armour. You have to keep your wits about you whenever you're on the streets.
Michael replying to a comment from JO / April 22, 2015 at 10:50 am
I'm absolutely awesome with bikes on the road with me- but that exact situation scares the shit out of me 10 times out of 10. I'm in a car turning right, waiting for pedestrians to cross, and just as the last one crosses, bikes flying past on the right side to 'beat' my turn. I've become paranoid and check every single time now, getting honked at most times for making slower turns, but I don't want a dead cyclist on my conscience. Of course, this could be resolved if some bicyclists weren't asshats to begin with.
Roxane replying to a comment from pennyForAsking / April 22, 2015 at 11:15 am
If you are driving a car in the curb lane, and the car in front of you is turning right, do you try and jam your car between the car and the curb to pass? Or do you pass on the left side? Common sense says you pass on the left.

According to the HTA and the police a vehicle turning right has to indicate the turn and can move over 100ft from the intersection to make that turn. It is SAFER and it is the RULE for cyclists to pass on the left. There are blind spots. The safest thing for both cyclists and drivers is to follow the rules.

Red lights mean stop. Stop signs mean stop. You pass on the left. You don't weave in and out between cars (that goes for cyclists AND drivers). You simply FOLLOW THE RULES.
Mike / June 15, 2015 at 07:08 am
Is there any rule or law that says you must ride IN the bike lane. It has been spoken of but are there any references to a law that anybody knows of that concludes that you don't actualky HAVE to be in the bike lane if there is one. I got hit while outside the bike lane, was passing a volume of slower bikers, and officer said if you are outside the bike lane it is your fault.
Jesse Allan / September 16, 2015 at 03:59 am
Mike, while there is no law specifically saying that you do not have to use the bike path, the absence of any language in either the HTA or City Bylaws regarding mandatory use is a good indication that you're OK.
The nearest parallel to bike lanes is HOV lanes, and while only vehicles with X occupants may drive in those, no-one thinks that if you have X occupants, you must use the HOV. Both HOVs and bike lanes are preferential lanes. If you prefer to use them, you can if you fit the requirements. If you prefer not to, you're free to use the general travel lanes.
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