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Should certain vehicles be allowed to park in bike lanes?

FAIZA AMIN | posted Tuesday, Dec 13th, 2016

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Bike lanes are back in the news, this time due to a debate on whether or not certain vehicles should be allowed to park in the space. This week, City Council will be considering an item on whether vehicles with accessibility permits should be allowed to pick-up and drop off a passenger with a disability while in a bike lane.

The fine for parking in these lanes runs $150 and some drivers say they’d rather pay that fine, than struggle to find parking on streets where cyclists take up part of the space.

“If I can’t find a parking spot, and the only parking is a bike lane, then I would put on my emergency lights and do what I have to do,” Geoffrey Nelson, a Delivery Driver tells CityNews.

Nelson, who once says he was ticketed seven times, isn’t alone.

Miguel Garcia, a Courier got three tickets this year, and says it’s especially difficult to execute a delivery along the Bloor Street Bike lanes.

“I understand it’s good for the cyclists,” he explains. “But for delivery, it’s complex.”

Otherwise these delivery drivers say they try and find an empty alleyway where they can park and unload, but oftentimes, they aren’t that lucky. Neither are taxi drivers, who say with the increase of bike lanes taking up space on the roads, they sometimes struggle with dropping off customers.

“I have to pick up wheelchairs and the people with the disabilities, and it’s really hard on me, and they get mad at me,” Tariq Sheikh, who drives an accessible taxi, said.

Sheikh said he gets ticketed every second week.

His dilemma will be heavily debated at council, but not everyone is on board with this idea. Those who oppose it say this could set a dangerous precedent for drivers who don’t have a permit, to do the same.

Cycle Toronto, an advocacy group for bikers, says a better alternative would be to have these vehicles park adjacent to the lanes.

“Parking right next to the bike lane, and loading and unloading right there, is going to have to be that we’re going to have to go right now,” Jared Kolb, Executive Director said.

The city says enforcement is increased during the winter months, when vehicles parked in the way of snow plows.

“Motor vehicles are basically parking on the bike lane, making it very difficult for us to maintain, and the users to use the bike lane,” said Hector Moreno, Transportation Services Manager with the city.

The city says it is increasing enforcement during the winter months, not only for these vehicles parked in these lanes, but for anyone who may add to the

“Private property owners and commercial buildings are basically pushing snow on to the bike lane,” Moreno said.

During last year’s winter season, the city says it received over 611 complaints, gave 572 warnings and issued 70 fines. For illegally dumping of snow onto the road way or laneway will run you $300.

Like our roads, the city also has priority designated bike lanes, which get cleared off after 5 inches of snowfall.

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