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Rogue Lanes

062208roguebikelane.jpg
Photo by Martin Reis. More are in his Guaranteed Bike Lane set.
Sometimes the Internet isn’t enough to protect Toronto’s bike lanes from the drivers that treat the space between the thick white line and the curb as their territory.
Last Thursday, members of Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC)—Rick Conroy (pictured at left; coordinator of the Toronto Cyclists Union), Derek Chadbourne (at right; owner of the Bike Joint, whose birthday the Gardiner ride happened on), Martin Reis, and Stephen Targett—spent the morning hunting College Street for vehicles blocking the bike lane, re-routing cyclist and car traffic with pylons and a makeshift sign when they found offenders.
In an e-mail to all ARC members this morning (the entirety of which, as written, follows after the fold), Chadbourne details how he arrived at 8:15 a.m. at College and Spadina to see Reis, Conroy, and Targett surprised and disappointed—not a single car had stopped in the bike lane. (“We were sharing a collective dream in which cars no longer stopped in the bike lane,” Chadbourne writes.) Just before 9 a.m., their Utopianism stopped when a cab did, pulling into the lane. The men quickly set the cones up, and the cab quickly left. Initially considering Bay and Gerrard as their next stop—it was “filled with drivers flaunting the law,” another ARC member told them—the pack instead decided to migrate east on College, where they quickly and rather gleefully found a Canada Post truck pulled up half onto the sidewalk (pictured above; license plate 877 8MD, truck number 3380944). Hurriedly setting up shop again, with “religious zeal,” they “marveled at the power of the pylon and how it averted traffic around [the cyclists]. Even a giant dump truck frantically changed lanes as to not feel the wrath of our little cones.”
When the Canada Post worker returned to his car, Chadbourne says, the driver asked the men: “where the hell do you want me to park?” Chadbourne’s e-mail offers a response: “Not in the bike lane, my friend, not in the bike lane.”

Guaranteed Bike Lane, Or how I tried to save cyclists and learned to love
illegally parked cars
the plan was simple, a little bit of fun for bike month, yes that thing is still going on and to make sure that cyclists get to work safely. The idea was to meet at the corner of Spadina and College and deploy parking cones around any motorist foolhardy enough to park in a bike lane. The cones would act as a buffer for cyclists and move traffic over as far as the parked car dictated. We were going to meet at the afore mentioned spot at 8am sharp. I was late.
When i arrived I saw a bright neon sign proclaiming “Guaranteed Bike Lane!” and three sad looking ARC members. Martin Reis, Rick “birthday boy” Conroy and Stephen Targett. “Why so glum chums?” I asked. It was already 8:15 and not one car had stopped in the bike lane.
I was shocked, not one car. But this was College and Spadina, this was one of the worst stretches of the city for cars parking in the bike lane and not one had stopped? Had I accidently woken in another city, perhaps Copenhagen or Cornwall? No, there was a Tim Horton’s across the street and every once in awhile a TTC street car would trundle by, so this was definitely Toronto.
We waited hopefully for a car to stop we discussed what the possibilities could be. The first one was the most obvious. We were sharing a collective dream in which cars no longer stopped in the bike lane. But if this was a dream would we not have all dreamt that cars did not exist? So there had to be a CAA mole inside ARC, a mole that had warned all car drivers of our blitz.
As we discussed these permutations happy cyclists streamed by in ever increasing numbers, most smiling and waving. I am sure that most of them thought it was us that had saved them from the dangers of cars pared in the bike lane, but we could not take credit. Curse you CAA mole, I will find out who you are for destroying our direct action.
Then the miraculous happened. A cab stopped in the bike lane. We stared at it dumbfounded. What were we doing again. Oh yes, right, deploy the cones, deploy the cones, oh happy day! The cab drove off.
At 9am, Anne an ARC member rolled up and asked how things were progressing. We told her of our depressing action so far. She told us to go to Gerrard and Bay where the bike lane there was filled with drivers flaunting the law.
Hmmm…..Gerrard and Bay, that seemed like a long way to go on the chance that there might be cars parked in the bike lane. It was getting late and we had things to do and I was actually pretty hungry from all the inactivity that we had been doing all morning.
But we relented because we felt bad for Martin because of the pounding that Germany was going to get from Portugal in the Euro cup. So off we went down College street scanning the bike lanes for prey and it wasn’t long before we found it.
Perched half way on the sidewalk was a Canada Post truck. This one’s for you Darren, we cried out and descended on the vehicle with an almost religious zeal. We deployed our cones and waited happily on the sidewalk for the first cyclist to ride safely by.
It wasn’t long for a cyclist to ride by and it wasn’t long after that that we realized that we had to put our sign up to tell cyclists why we were there. Cyclist after cyclist rode by and smiled, some waved as they felt the safety of the situation. How ritcheous we felt because we could finally stand proud with our pylons and know that at least for a few minutes we had made the city safe for cyclists.
We marveled at the power of the pylon and how it averted traffic around them. Even a giant dump truck frantically changed lanes as to not feel the wrath of our little cones. We waited for the driver of the postal truck to come out, bikes rode by us on the sidewalk. This action prompted some of us to comment that perhaps next time we should do a guaranteed sidewalk.
The Postal worker came out and looked at his truck surrounded by safety cones. “Where the hell do you want me to park!”
Not in the bike lane, my friend, not in the bike lane.
With our work now done and our tummies growling in displeasure, we rode off west, knowing that we, for at least a small moment in time had made the bike lanes safe for cyclists.

Comments

  • heys

    Bike lanes need a physical barrier or they aren’t any use. Is the only thing Cars/Trucks understand.

  • davedave

    What would happen to these assholes if someone got hit by a car in their bike lane? Or if a car accident happened?
    Here’s a wee hint: they’d be fucked.
    I’m all for more bike lanes in the city, but shit like this is fucking reckles, irresponsible, dangerous and stupid.

  • atomeyes99

    ah, Canada Post…good old (read: lazy) government employees.
    “Where should i park?” he asks.
    umm…try using your turning signal and turn down a side street. park in a loading zone. that 10 second walk will not kill you. neither will turning your truck off while you make a delivery.
    that also goes for you, Cab Drivers (their steering wheel doesn’t work and allow them to parallel park into a spot to let someone off. instead, block traffic and/or bike lanes to pick up or let out a fare), UPS drivers and delivery trucks.

  • Ben

    but shit like this is fucking reckles, irresponsible, dangerous and stupid.

    Do you mean like how parking in a bike lane is reckless, irresponsible, dangerous and stupid?
    What would happen if someone was parked in the bike lane, and a cyclist who was forced into traffic was hit from behind? I’d bet a lot on “nothing.” The police department has a track record of not charging people who cause injury or death to cyclists.
    These people who are trying to do something to fix the problem should not be berated for their efforts, they should be applauded.
    p.s. I think that “I’m all for more bike lanes in this city BUT…” must be a secret rallying call for some secret reactionary motorist group, judging by the frequency and context it is always used in.

  • Martin Reis

    Right, Parking in the bike is reckless.

  • Martin Reis

    Right. Parking in the bike lane is reckless, that is.

  • davedave

    Ben – uhhh, no. That is not what I meant at all.
    Were an accident to happen wherein a car was parked in the bike lane, uh, yeah, that car would be fucked. But whatever, bet on anything you like.
    Applauded? For rerouting traffic without permission? For endangering cyclists and drivers alike with a little PR stunt? Are you fucking kidding?

  • Martin Reis

    Dave,
    You have no clue what you’re talking about.

  • Wade Vroom

    I want to comment, as I am able to see both sides of the coin here. I ride my bike to work (along College Street) and when I get to work I hop into a delivery truck and go to work, making deliveries across town and often along College Street.
    On my way to work, I often find myself yelling at shaking my fist at motorists, and once I get to work and start my deliveries, I yell and shake my fist at bikers. It is a peculiar position that I am in. It isn’t a biker vs. delivery truck or biker vs. motorist issue; it is a ‘people can be inconsiderate ’ issue. There are rude, inconsiderate car drivers/delivery people, but guess what, there are just as many rude, inconsiderate bikers out there too. Sure, a delivery person parking in a bike lane is not being very considerate, but neither was the gang of bikers taking over the Gardner Expressway a few weeks ago.
    The driver of the Canada Post has a legitimate question. Where would you expect him to park? If you look at the Canada Post truck, he/she is even trying to make an effort to stay out of the bike lane by parking on the sidewalk. From my own delivery experience, parking on the sidewalk warrants a $60 ticket, where just parking illegally on the road is only $30. Delivery trucks are a necessity. You know the beer you drink at bars, the pop you buy at the corner store, the stuff you order in eBay? These things don’t deliver themselves.
    I love bike lanes and use them daily, but I also realize that most bikers need to chill out. My bicycle is equipped with handlebars that will allow me to steer around objects. Delivery people aren’t bad people; they are just trying to do their job as fast as they can. In the delivery world, some times it is possible not to park in the bike lanes, but most of the time is it only because there is nowhere else to stop. Sure I could park on a side street instead of the bike lane to make my delivery, but now my delivery takes 15 minutes instead of 5. That may not sound like a big difference, but on a day where you need to make 25 separate stops, it is a huge difference.
    Biker/Delivery guy

  • Gloria

    Thanks, Wade. Excellent, thoughtful comment.

  • DavidC

    The real problem is that painted bike lanes on the street are not safe and, in my opinion, may actually increase the danger for cyclists as we are lulled into a false sense of security. In Montreal they at least separate this kind of lane from the motor traffic with pylons, why not here?
    I am not a driver (though I can drive) and have often wondered whether cars, and Canada Post delivery trucks, are allowed to park in the traffic lane OUTSIDE the bike path. and if so why don’t they? Delivery trucks DO need to park somewhere close to the delivery address, maybe when cycle lanes are built/painted the City needs to create more (aome?) very short-term delivery parking spots.

  • geoffrey

    Let me see if I have this right. According to “Wade Vroom” parking in other than the bike lanes is inconvenient and will eat up an entire 10 minutes more per delivery? And this justifies potentially putting bicyclists at risk?
    Hello Wade. I’ve been “inconvenienced” for going on 12 months because some asshat was inconvenienced in passing me so decided to drive through me instead. The “investigating officer” was further “inconvenienced” by the proposition of actually investigating the incident so decided to write it off as my “falling”. I’ve been off work ever since. And you are “inconvenienced” by the prospect of driving around the corner and using the alley?
    Piss off! Park in the “motor vehicle lane” and stop “inconveniencing” the wheelchair bound who cannot get around you when you block the sidewalk. Beating on bicyclists because they are more “convenient” to displace is tired.

  • atomeyes99

    as a biker and driver, i will tell you something:
    i avoid bike lanes at all costs.
    why?
    because some asshole (or usually multiple assholes) park in the bike lane, which means that i have to shouldercheck and move back into traffic. and then move back into a bike lane. and then shoulder check and move into traffic.
    when you are driving at 25-30 km/hr and you approach a car parked in a bike lane, its not a lot of fun to manouver around it.
    i will also be the first to argue that most bicyclists have ZERO clue on how to bike properly/safely. biking on sidewalks, weaving in and out of traffic, running red lights. just yesterday, i had a girl swerve from the right lane to drive around 2 TTC buses that were stopped at a red light, and swerve into the left side of the left lane as the light turned green. i almost hit her because her move was stupid and unexpected (i was in my car). i then watched in my rear view mirror as she swerved from the left lane BACK into the right line which had a bike lane…and cars were dodging her! all of this on the Millwood bridge during rush hour!
    if bikers want respect, they should learn the rules and follow them.

  • davedave

    I am not denying the fact that a vehicle half parked in a bike lane is a danger to cyclists. It should be taken seriously and punishments dished out to the perpetrators.
    I am just saying impromptu establishment of illegal bike lanes on the whim of activists is incredibly dangerous to both cyclists and drivers. It should also be taken seriously and punishments dished out to the perpetrators. but CHrist, the bogus lanes are ridiculous: no enforcement, no legal right to be there, no official status – just a prank that could get someone killed.
    Two entirely different situations created by inconsiderate and thoughtless assholes. You cannot possibly be suggesting that these activist bike lanes are safe.
    Martin Reis – your post was amazing! Full of absolutely nothing of value.

  • Acadie

    Wade I must agree.

  • rival_oms

    Bike lanes should be a designated part of the (wider) sidewalk, instead of lines painted on the road, where some motorists are bound to use their own discretion as to when the laws apply to them.

  • Vincent Clement

    The problem I have is that you never hear or read about bike advocacy groups telling cyclists to be responsible. You don’t hear them telling cyclists to stay off sidewalks.

  • Svend

    davedave says-
    Applauded? For rerouting traffic without permission? For endangering cyclists and drivers alike with a little PR stunt? Are you fucking kidding?
    ===
    Parking in the bike lane is rerouting traffic without permission as well. Bike traffic.

  • TokyoTuds

    A little civil disobedience is called for sometimes, and I applaud these bicycle activists for their creative idea. Likewise the Gardiner Ride a few weeks ago was brilliant.
    There will come a day when such action would be just a nuisance, because Toronto has finally seriously improved infrastructure where drivers and riders don’t have to fight it out in the streets. The City is shirking its responsibility to the public with regards to bike AND pedestrian safety, and needs to get serious.
    Cheers,
    Tuds

  • David Topping

    We had a post just about a month ago about pedestrian–cyclist concerns. With a few exceptions, bikes don’t belong on sidewalks, just as cars don’t belong in bike lanes—that’s obvious, and it ought to be to cycling advocates too. (And for the record, I haven’t yet seen one credible bike advocacy group encourage cyclists to use the sidewalks when there are people on them, or run red lights, or not wear a helmet.)
    The idea of a combined (and obviously clearly designated) bike lane/pedestrian sidewalk sounds cool, but I’m not sure how safe it’d be: pedestrians are the least predictable things on the street. Though pedestrians are less likely to seriously harm cyclists in a collision, pedestrians are in far more danger of getting hurt if they’d have to share the sidewalk (however wide) with bikes. Does it work—not just exist but work—in other cities? I don’t know that it would here until people on all sides get a whole lot more respect for everyone else out there.

  • Miles Storey

    I’ve seen bike lanes in other cities that are more a part of the sidewalk then the street, separated by a curb and sometimes with their own streetlights (one of the few times I’ve seen cyclists actually stop at lights). The bike lane is very obviously not part of the sidewalk at the same time.
    I’ve seen lanes like this in Australia and in different parts of Europe, Germany and Spain for example. I managed to find this pic of one in Berlin (source).
    It makes a lot more sense but requires the extra effort and expense it’s hard to imagine the city being able to afford. Using higher contrast paving would be a start, I’ve seen bike lanes marked in bright blue or brick red.

  • geoffrey

    grrr ..
    I’ve yet to hear motor vehicle advocacy groups (hello CAA) encouraging motorvehiclists to stay off the sidewalks, stop for red lights, stop signs and not drive the wrong way on one way streets.
    For those of you pushing discretionary enforcement of the HTA there is nothing in that document forbidding bicyclists from using the left lane. On the other hand I will happily show you motorists demonstrating all of the above at a higher rate than cyclists on any given day right here in our little berg.
    Do you really expect cyclists to sit behind motorvehicles stopped in biike lanes? Are you forbidding their use of other lanes to pass?

  • robducey

    i’m all for this if for no other reason than to put the issue on the radar. most of the cyclists I know are in the atomeyes camp. between swerving out of the bike lane into traffic and the possibility of winning a door prize, we’d rather just take dundas to get across town where at least everyone knows what the rules are. if bike lanes were safer we’d use’em, but as is, no way jose.

  • ShaunSmith

    First, the truck should get off the pedestrian sidewalk. Second, it should get out of the bike lane which has been demarcated by a solid white line. Third, the driver should receive a traffic citation, and a reprimand from his supervisors.
    If we let just a few trucks, taxis and cars slip by here and there, when do we say it is enough, and how do we police that? Do we wait till a cyclist is killed because s/he is forced into the car lane? I was once standing perfectly legally astride my bike in the St George bike lane adjusting my helmet and some a-hole in a CanPost truck (probably the same a-hole pictured here) drove up behind me IN the bike lane and honked his horn for me to move. And then he got irate when I didn’t.
    Where should this a-hole park? There are TWO car lanes at his disposal. Choose one.
    If the city wants people to ride bikes (big if!) we have to create a safe environment.
    The city needs money. How about the bike cops actually patrol these lanes for a change and reap the rewards of ticketing? I guarantee they could fill their monthly quota in under a week.

  • elliot

    davedave, i’m going to respond to your poorly thought out blog comment with an intelligent and inflammatory objection. my points will be better than yours, jerk but will still fall within the category of “stupid internet flame war ranting”, as will your eventual response. this will escalate until we are bored and this article falls off the first page. one day i will see another comment by you and the great cycle of stupid internet debate will continue.

  • davedave

    Elliot – how are my comments poorly thought out?
    1 – I hate the truck in the bike lane and on the sidewalk endangering cyclists and drivers.
    2 – I hate the jerks endangering cyclists and drivers with their fake bike lane.
    Activist cyclists don’t even see the irony. They’re lucky a kid didn’t get hit by a car riding in their lane. Would it have been worth it?
    But hey – I understand, Elliot – you’re too busy being smug and clever to defend the safety of their bike lane.

  • Marc Lostracco

    What non-bike lane users don’t understand well (and I didn’t either until I started using bike lanes) is that when someone parks in a bike lane, it forces a bicycle into traffic, often with little notice, which is especially dangerous when other drivers on the road are used to bike lanes and not expecting a bicycle to pop into the traffic flow.
    I agree with a previous commenter that delivery vehicles should just stop in the middle of the rightmost lane, like they would if there wasn’t a bike lane. But they won’t because drivers would despise it and they’d be likely to get a ticket. Hmm…
    The issue always degrades to people complaining that cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road properly (which many don’t), but the bottom line is that motorized vehicles do not belong in a bike lane. Including delivery trucks. But because cars rule this city and ticketing isn’t enforced, people generally don’t give a shit.
    The most important thing I want people to keep in mind is that forcing cyclists out of a bike lane and into traffic is extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening (see the PDF graphic at the bottom of this post). Parking in bike lanes is incredibly selfish and inconsiderate, and in this case, cyclists have the right to be furious.

  • toddtyrtle

    I’ve been seeing a lot of statements like this: “if bikers want respect, they should learn the rules and follow them.” on the net and to me this is yet another example of someone justifying prejudice based on what they see someone else do. People of all different races, genders, sexual orientations, etc break rules, and *-ists of all types have used the same phrase as above for generations to justify their denying rights and respect to the entire group. Just because you have seen someone riding the wrong way down a street, going on the sidewalk, blowing a red light, does NOT give anyone the right to deny me and my family the right to be safe on the streets. I don’t give a flying f*** about the impression others give. There is zero excuse for this attitude.
    And yes, this goes both ways – many cyclists have been painting motorists with the ‘killer, rogue, environmental criminal’ brush as well. And while this does little to improve relations between cyclists and motorist, it has far less impact on my day to day safety than the prejudices mentioned in the paragraph above.
    The great irony of it all, though, is that one of the greatest improvement not only to cyclists safety as well as the relationship between cyclists and drivers would be to provide adequate infrastructure thus engineering traffic flow better and possibly even encouraging further cycling and thereby reducing traffic.

  • atomeyes99

    “A little civil disobedience is called for sometimes, and I applaud these bicycle activists for their creative idea. Likewise the Gardiner Ride a few weeks ago was brilliant.
    Cheers,
    Tuds”

    actually, i thought those people were complete idiots. i would have felt little pity for them if they were hit by a car.
    what point did they prove? oh yes, that we should teach bike safety to people before they hop on a road.
    its like the Gardiner bikers were cutting off their noses to spite the faces of other Torontonians. didn’t make sense.

  • CanadianIre

    Are there resources to combat this? If I encounter a vehicle parked in the bike lane, is there a number I can call to have the vehicle towed, or at least ticketed? Or is such a thing a pretty useless gesture…?

  • smcky

    davedave, that guaranteed bike lane looks pretty safe to me…orange cones, two guys standing there with a big yellow sign…not sure why you think its so dangerous. Maybe its cause it’s unusual? It’s not a good idea to conflate safety with the status quo, especially when the status quo is so friggin dangerous.

  • davedave

    smcy – two guys with a hand written piece of yellow bristolboard looks safe and official to you?
    You think those 5 sad little 12″ pylons is the proper and safe way to mark off a lane of traffic? Ever see a film or commercial shoot take up part of a street? Bigger (proper) pylons, more (enough) pylons, all properly placed in accordance with these little things called standards – which are conceived with safety in mind.
    This little stunt was way more dangerous than any of you want to admit and I don’t understand why.
    And again, I am NOT saying a car obstructing a bike lane is not dangerous, reckless and assholey and needs to be dealt with harshly.

  • smcky

    “Ever see a film or commercial shoot take up part of a street?”
    yup. they just throw a bunch of pylons around their trucks, and pretty well never leave a space for bikes. But since they are representatives of a big industry, I guess we’re supposed to assume that’s “proper and safe?”

  • davedave

    If film crews didn’t follow proper procedures to block lanes, they wouldn’t be able to get further permits, so yeah, they are doing it properly. Whether or not they are required to accommodate a blocked bike lane I don’t know.
    But I do know these 2 activists blocked off a lane of traffic poorly, illegally and very unsafely.

  • CanadianIre

    I’m not sure I understand your grievance davedave. Those guys have simply marked out the path that cyclists would be forced to take anyway because of the postal truck. Now, the new path around the truck is simply easier to see. The truck is the only dangerous obstacle in the picture. It’s the only thing that is forcing bike traffic into the street. The cones don’t do that.

  • Marc Lostracco

    Film productions have permits to park like that. You’ll see them in the windshields of any production vehicles, including the days they’re allowed to be there. BTW, permits are granted no more than twice a year for the same street.

  • smcky

    Permits! now I feel nice and safe.

  • spleen

    wow, I still don’t see what two guys and 5 pylons means to make it MORE unsafe for the cyclists who already have to pull out into the car lane as it is to get around the van.
    the postal van will still be blocking half the bike lane, so how would it be any different without them there?
    unless you’re really misunderstanding what side of the cones the cyclists are expected to ride on, left or right?
    I see it as ‘right side’ (between van and pylon), not ‘left side’, even further out into traffic (the side Derek and Rick are standing on)

  • Ben

    Judging by google maps there appears to be a loading zone at the back of that building. There’s always a purolator parked in the bike lane on Prince Arthur right next to the loading zone when I bike to work in the morning.
    Why can’t they just use the loading zones? When I was a (bike) courier I would always use the loading zones if possible.

  • Gloria

    Is there any reason why cyclists need to “swerve” (I’m quoting) out into traffic rather than cursing thoughtless drivers under their breath, slowing down, checking rear traffic, signalling, and merging into traffic briefly before resuming their way in the bike lane? I’m a walker, so I don’t really know.

  • CanadianIre

    Gloria, cyclists usually make a shoulder check before they go around vehicles using the bike lane as a parking lot. But there will be the odd cyclist who may approach the parked vehicle, and when surprised by its presence there will swerve around to avoid it, and into traffic. This is why pedestrians don’t stand around on the road. Most drivers would avoid a person standing on the road — by stopping, signalling, going around, etc. But eventually there will be a driver who will be surprised by the presence of a person standing there, will not go through the various steps of polite driving, and will plow right into the pedestrian. You’re a walker, so you would understand that. That’s why you don’t walk around in traffic. You would, though, if you weighed one tonne and were made of steel. That’s why motorized vehicles camp out in our bike lanes…

  • TokyoTuds

    “A little civil disobedience is called for sometimes, and I applaud these bicycle activists for their creative idea. Likewise the Gardiner Ride a few weeks ago was brilliant.
    Cheers,
    Tuds”
    actually, i thought those people were complete idiots. i would have felt little pity for them if they were hit by a car.
    ==========
    atomeyer99, Civil Disobedience is meant to disrupt the status quo to bring attention to an issue important to the participants.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_disobedience
    I am sure many people thought Gandhi and his crew were idiots during their salt march, and they risked injury and imprisonment to make their point. (I do not equate cycling rights in Toronto with Gandhi’s works, I am illustrating civil disobedience.)
    The Gardiner Ride had no intent to harm drivers, the city government, or any by-standers; it was undertaken with care, aware of an element of danger, but with the safety of the participants paramount. It was a triumph of the cyclists cause in Toronto, and all the Critical Mass rides are in the same tradition.
    Cheers,
    Tuds

  • atomeyes99

    Gloria,
    A bike is different than a car. braking and accelerating isn’t the same as a car’s gas pedal and a brake. the more a biker brakes, the more energy he/she uses up, the longer their trip is, etc.
    also, braking time on a bike is a lot longer than a car’s braking time. and if you panic and brake too quickly, you can lock your front tire and flip over your bike. internal bleeding, broken collar bones, possibly falling into oncoming traffic. yikes. but it happens. quite a bit.
    shoulder-checking: depends how fast you’re going. if you are casually biking from point A to B, then you have time to shoulder check. when i bike to work, i have a heavy backpack on me (affects my balance if i turn to shoulder check) and I’m biking anywhere from 25-40 km/hr. and its not a shoulder check. a car is going twice your speed, so you have to look BEHIND you.
    so…I’m biking fast, since i use it as transportation. a car decides to pull into the bike lane and block it. i have 5-10 seconds to: apply the brakes and not flip, “shoulder check” and not swerve my bike and end up drifting into the curb or traffic. i then have to signal with one hand, somehow downshift my bike with one hand so i can start to accelerate properly, increase my pedalling rate so i can merge with traffic safely (again, with one hand on my bike because i am signalling), shift my bike again to accomodate my increased pedalling, move around the car in the lane, signal my intentions again and shouldercheck.
    its really not easy.
    today, i was biking on Eglinton Ave E to work and i had to deal with a bus that kept on passing me and stopping at stops, where i would then pass it. when we got to traffic lights, i would wave him ahead of me to give him the courtesy (since i bike as if i was a car, therefore i yield to buses). let me tell you…its not fun to have a bus beside you at a red light and you motion he can pull ahead. the bus then did not properly judge where i was, so each time i allowed this, the bus came dangerous close to clipping me as i remained stationary at the stop light. and, while this is happening, i have to hope the driver behind me is paying attention, sees me and doesn’t get anxious and accelerate at the green light and run into me.

  • x_the_x

    I find this whole topic a bit tiresome, and the antics of the activists a bit self-congratulatory (especially since, as they acknowledge, the found it difficult to find a bike lane blocked to perform their stunt, and in the picture above the offending vehicle has done its utmost to leave the lane open so that bikes don’t have to leave it to get around), but it stikes me from 43′s description that (a) you shouldn’t be travelling at a speed at which you cannot safely stop if something enters the lane in front of you; and (b) you shouldn’t be wearing something which impedes your ability to check for traffic approaching behind you.
    I think it would be best if vehicles didn’t block bikelanes, just like it would be best if vehicles wouldn’t sit in the right-most lane with their flashers on in traffic, just like it would be best if vehicles were courteous to other drivers, just like it would be best if cyclists and drivers all followed the rules of the road. Absent this state of perfection, all users of the road need to be aware of potential obstructions and exercise good judgment. I think 43′s comments fail on both those measures.

  • CanadianIre

    not really, x the x. by your definition, cars cannot have trailers, and buses, trucks and cube vans shouldn’t be on the road. These vehicles have back ends that impede their ability to check for traffic approaching behind them.
    and if you shouldn’t travel at speeds that you cannot safely stop at, then you shouldn’t travel at any speed at all. A car going 20km an hour cannot safely stop for a child that suddenly runs into the road. therefore all cars should travel at 10km/h. But things can still jump in front of these tortoises. How about 1 km/h, x the x? is that slow enough for you?

  • x_the_x

    cars, buses, trucks and cube vans are equipped with mirrors since, oh, about forever.
    This is why these threads are tiresome. Any suggestion, however reasonable (“you should not be travelling at a speed at which you endanger yourself if something unexpected happens in the roadway, and you should be able to check for approaching traffic”) is interpreted as an affront to your identity as a cyclist. I have no desire to feed into your wounded and oppressed self-image.

  • Gloria

    @43: I’ve always been taught, as a driver and as a pedestrian (and when I was cycled for leisure), to consider everybody a liability on the road.
    Lots of drivers don’t like doing what they should be doing because it isn’t “easy” or it inconveniences them in some minor way. In fact, aren’t people blaming this delivery driver for doing the “easy” thing by parking in the bike lane rather than turning into a quiet side street? Turns out what he’s doing for his own comfort and convenience is endangering lives.
    If I had something on my car that obstructed my ability to check the view to the side or the rear of my car, I’d get a ticket.
    Perhaps you should consider wearing a lighter backpack and transferring the rest of your load to a front or rear-mounted basket. Or consider getting a couple of rear-view mirrors.
    @45: I think the point is that drivers of buses, trucks, cube vans, and cars with trailers are specially trained, or given permits, are outfitted with safety mirrors, and are expected to drive with extra caution. I don’t see why cyclists shouldn’t do the same, and in fact, lots do, because they acknowledge the realities of their transport of choice.

  • atomeyes99

    #44 – x_the_x: pardon me for travelling at “unsafe speeds”. I use the bike to commute. 15 km to work, 15 km back. i start work at 8:30. perhaps I should set aside more than 50 minutes to get to work and bike on city streets at 10 km/hr? in fact, that would probably make me a greater hazzard, since i would really be slowing down buses and other cars passing me on the Reserved lanes.
    lighter backpack? let’s be practical. i am not going camping. i am going to work. shoes, dress pants, dress shirt, a towel.
    and any rear checking can possibly result in you weaving or deviating from a straight line – backpack or not. i’m beginning to wonder if you’ve ever biked on a city street or are just whining about bikers because you hate sharing the road.
    i exercise the utmost judgment when i bike. i’ve been in one bike accident (and fractured my clavicle badly in it) when a BIKE RIDER dismounted in front of me on the Don River bike path. go figure.
    but you digress from my original post, which criticized both bikers and drivers for not following the rules. and yet, you criticize me for using my bike as a legitimate form of transportation while following almost all of the rules (I refuse to put a dingybell on my bike, since my voice is louder and has a faster reaction time).
    X_the_x: do me a favour. try riding a bike to and from work one day before you slag others. and be a little realistic and practical, since i doubt you ride the streets in a wind-powered red wagon

  • x_the_x

    Hey atomeyes:
    “This is why these threads are tiresome. Any suggestion, however reasonable (“you should not be travelling at a speed at which you endanger yourself if something unexpected happens in the roadway, and you should be able to check for approaching traffic”) is interpreted as an affront to your identity as a cyclist. I have no desire to feed into your wounded and oppressed self-image.”
    Oops.
    I didn’t criticize you for using your bike as “a legitimate form of transportation”. I criticized you for being reckless and suggesting the greater risk you experienced was the fault of others. You must have missed that while making all those assumptions about my life and worldview.

  • atomeyes99

    X_the_x:
    not sure what’s reckless about my biking. i signal. i stop at stop signs and traffic lights.
    i yield for buses.
    i don’t stop in a car’s blind spot.
    i shouldercheck when i bike.
    i don’t ride on the sidewalk.
    i have lights for the front and back of my bike.
    the only thing that may possibly be “reckless” is me riding at 20-35 km/hr on city streets.
    your argument is moot and, frankly, just stupid.

  • x_the_x

    I don’t think you know what moot means.
    I don’t argue with the self-righteous. If you don’t think I have a good point, fine, but you aren’t doing a very good job of convincing me.

  • Russ_Morgs

    Wow…tons of passion.
    Here is what they have for NYC.. the only thing is the bike lanes have to be clear:
    http://www.coolhunting.com/archives/2008/06/ride_the_city.php

  • yvonnebambrick

    For anyone wishing to…
    - Report surface problems on city streets / motor vehicles parked in bike lanes, please call the City at this number: 416 338 9999.
    - Report Parks Trail problems – 416 392 1111 (press ’8′.
    - Request Post & Ring bicycle racks ie: parking for your velomobile – 416 392 9253
    Easy enough to save these numbers in your cell phone and make a quick stop to call in infractions / needed improvements – the more people ask for these, the faster we’ll see action.