toronto bike lanes

Cyclists in Toronto are still fed up with cars blocking bike lanes

With all of the hardship and tragedy that the pandemic has brought, it has also been transformative in manifold ways, not all of them bad.

For a city that many believe was designed more with vehicles in mind than people, Toronto has felt a whole lot more eco-progressive lately, with large chunks of former road space now designated for the temporary or permanent use of bar and restaurant patios, pedestrian promenades and cyclist routes.

But, there have been seemingly endless complaints on both sides — some from drivers who want their space back, but many more from cyclists who say those in cars simply aren't respecting new bike lanes.

Accounts of vehicles driving along or parked in lanes across the city that are supposed to be reserved for bike riders abound on social media, with Bloor Street and the Danforth seeming to be particular problem areas.

The phenomenon of vehicles obstructing bike lanes across the city has become so common that social media accounts dedicated solely to documenting such incidents have popped up:

Bloor blocked - drove the whole block in the bike lane then tried to maneuver around the cyclists to make a right hand turn on the red. #toronto #visionzero #parkedinabikelane #bikelane #biketTO

And the officers charged with enforcing the rules of the road have likewise taken to socials to remind drivers that bike lanes are not parking spots...

... even if you're just jumping out of the car momentarily:

It's not just everyday residents who are taking the liberty to block cyclist routes, but also workers who are on the clock and driving large company trucks — a bigger safety concern for cyclists trying to maneuver around them on busy thoroughfares.

Admittedly, it is a little unclear how drivers due to make large deliveries to storefronts — or people like the armed guards at Brinks, who have to make particularly difficult and sensitive bank pickups that they can't exactly park around the corner for — are supposed to pull over in the midst of traffic and do their jobs in light of the new road configurations.

Those who choose to travel on two wheels have cited a number of safety issues with existing bike infrastructure, such as the fact that some roadways have car parking situated on the righthand side of the bike lane rather than the left, causing cars to cross over and leaving cyclists more exposed to moving traffic.

Many believe that physically delineating car and bike lanes with barriers would really help solve at least some of the issues at hand, and ensure cyclists have a clear, safe path on which to ride.

Unfortunately, a number of separators along existing routes have been completely flattened by errant vehicles, inspiring calls for the city to install more hefty, permanent fixtures.

The curbside restaurant patio and the quiet street barriers that have likewise been destroyed have also caused a scare.

As we move into fall and the end of peak cycling season — and also face the prospect of stricter lockdown measures once more — we'll have to see what happens with the the long-running tensions between drivers and cyclists.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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