parking ticket bike lane

Lawyer alleges trucks are treated to special illegal parking privileges in Toronto

Cycle along any of Toronto's bike lanes on any given day, and you're bound to encounter a common sight: delivery trucks illegally blocking bike paths.

It's such a widespread problem that a personal injury lawyer and well-known personality in the cycling community took it upon himself to actually ask one of these delivery drivers why they show such flagrant disregard for the law.

David Shellnutt was cycling his morning route on Thursday when he encountered a Sysco-branded delivery van blocking the path while unloading for a local restaurant.

He approached the truck to politely inform the driver that they were parked illegally, and was met with an alarmingly honest explanation.

Shellnutt was told that drivers are instructed by superiors to illegally park in bike lanes, and that once corporations rack up enough tickets, they are able to negotiate massive reductions in fees paid.

A City representative flat-out denies the allegations, telling blogTO that "the City doesn't have agreements with any delivery corporations that cancels violations for standing or stopping in a bicycle lane. We also don't have any agreement with delivery corporations to exempt their vehicles from towing."

They cite statistics that over 16,000 violations were issued for stopping in cycle tracks and over 56 prohibited parking on bicycle path violations in 2021 alone.

However, a 2015 Toronto Star report stated that "some corporate repeat offenders, however, have long ducked parking tickets" through a range of methods, including a process called "global resolution" that allows companies operating large fleets to address tickets in bulk and often see fines removed.

Shellnutt tells blogTO that "as lawyers for multiple cyclists injured while avoiding vehicles parked in bike lanes, we see first hand the huge costs to health care, employers, municipalities and families when the safety of vulnerable road users is an afterthought."

He argues that the city's alleged quiet arrangement with corporations is a case of putting "corporate profit over the safety of the general public," and asks "is the math being done to determine the impacts, financial and otherwise?"

"The cost and inconvenience required to fundamentally change and implement safe and smart infrastructure is surely dwarfed by the long-term impacts of cyclists being treated as collateral damage."

Shellnutt connected blogTO with a former driver for an organic grocery delivery service who wishes to remain anonymous, saying that delivery workers are "encouraged to go fast, and if that means you have to do illegal things, just don't get caught. That's their whole approach to it."

"So it's not considerate of pedestrians, cyclists, anyone that isn't the customer, cause even the worker is stressed, getting cussed out for parking illegally, but as long as the delivery happens on time, it's OK."

The former driver explains that when drivers attempt to play by the rules, it impacts their livelihood, saying that "if you take the time to find appropriate parking and walk the stuff over, you won't finish on time and you won't get raises. Raises are given to those who go FAST."

Basically, drivers have more incentive to break the law than to obey it.

Lead photo by

David Shellnutt

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