Toronto police are cracking down on motorists who park in the city’s bike lanes as part of their “Right 2 Bike” campaign.
The crackdown, which started Monday morning, runs for a week.
The police say illegal parking in bike lanes, which has long been a major headache for cyclists in the city, “deprives cyclists of their personal safety and impedes the orderly flow of bicycle traffic throughout the city.”
The news comes on the same day as “bike to work day,” which encourages commuters to ditch the car, bus or subway and travel by bike, instead.
The blitz is welcome to cycling advocates, who have been calling on police to do something about the scores of vehicles that park in the bike lanes every day.
“It’s unfortunate that it has to be through the stick instead of the carrot,” said cycling advocate Yvonne Bambrick. “Nobody ever wants to get a ticket for something, but it is a reminder of what you’ve done that’s wrong.”
Bambrick said a public education campaign would be better, as well as more regular, consistent enforcement.
She said the issue is so sensitive to cyclists because drivers park in bike lanes regularly, and because it threatens their safety.
She said it also sometimes leads to confrontations between motorists and cyclists.
“Cyclists feel so threatened on the roadway environment that when they’re forced into the road because someone’s parked in the one bit of bike infrastructure that they have, it’s upsetting because you can tell that they have a complete disregard for your safety, or that’s what it feels like.”
The fine for parking in a bike lane is $150, up from $60 in 2014.
The city has also named this month “Bike Month“ to support cyclists in the city.
Drivers and cyclists will soon share more roadways in the city.
On Monday, the city released a report that proposed a 10-year plan to create a network of new bike lanes in Toronto. The report, which will be discussed at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting next week, suggests the addition of 525 kilometres of new bike lanes and other routes that would span across the GTA.
Last week, council voted in favour to install temporary bike lanes on a 2.4 kilometre portion of Bloor Street as part of a pilot project. The project hopes to determine the impact of bike lanes in the area for motorists, businesses and cyclists.
Toronto Police Constable Hugh Smith said that motorists sharing the roads with cyclists should review the bylaws and safety precautions that go along with driving beside bike lanes.
Here are five refreshers on sharing the road with cyclists:
5. Yield to cyclists when turning right.
If you’re attempting to turn right and there’s a bike lane running in that direction, you are permitted to drive on the painted lane lines as long as you yield to oncoming cyclists, and only as you approach the intersection you wish to turn at.
That being said…
4. Drive in bike lanes only when turning and yielding to cyclists.
This is only permitted as you come within 45m of the corner you wish to turn at.
3. By law you need to keep a full metre between the car and the cyclist when possible.
“That’s from the edge of the handlebar to the edge of your side mirror,” Const. Hugh Smith said.
Drivers should give cyclists space and avoid blocking their path on the bike lane as much as possible.
2. Do not stop, stand or park in a bike lane.
Not only is it dangerous for cyclists, who are then forced to weave within traffic to bypass the vehicle, it could cost you.
“It’s a $150 fine (for drivers) and it’s clearly posted in yellow along cycle tracks in the city,’ Hugh said.
1. Be aware.
The number one rule for drivers to keep in mind comes from the perspective of cyclists themselves.
“Be courteous, be aware of your surroundings,” one local cyclist told CTV Toronto.
“I think if we’re just aware of what’s going on, work together, give and take — it all works out,” said another.
Hugh urges drivers to communicate and be conscious of everything around your vehicle.
With 15 cities offering its bike-sharing systems, company can’t keep up with new demand
Bixi, the Montreal-spawned bike share system, continues its march across the planet.
PBSC Urban Solutions of Longueuil, Que., which makes and markets the bicycle-sharing technology, announced this week the sale of another 1,000 bikes and 120 docking stations to Toronto, which will double the city’s current fleet.
This summer Bixi-style bikes will debut in Honolulu, the Hawaiian capital. In fact, by year’s end, 50,000 Quebec-made bicycles are expected to be in service around the world.
Bixi (and its various local variations) are already present in 15 cities and two U.S. university campuses. PBSC says it’s having “serious discussions” with another dozen cities in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
To serve the unique markets of Latin America and Asia, the company developed a leaner, lighter bike, which it calls the “Fit”.
“The bike-sharing industry has the wind in its sails,” said Luc Sabbatini, the company’s chief executive, who doubled the number of employees to 50 in a few months.
“A city doesn’t feel cool if it doesn’t have a bike service. This makes our job easier, since we don’t have to solicit those markets. Those markets solicit us. We’re having trouble meeting the demand,” Sabbatini said.
Where Bixi bikes roam
Montreal and Longueuil
Toronto (now “Toronto Bike Share”)
New York City
Washington State University
Stony Brook University, N.Y.
Bixi competes with several companies in what is expected to be an $8-billion industry by 2020, according to analysts. Close to 500 cities in 50 countries have a bike-sharing system.
From bankruptcy to success
Two years ago, PBSC Urban Solutions, the small company in the Montreal suburb of Longueuil, bought Bixi’s international sales arm for $4 million. At that time, Bixi, created in 2008, was a para-municipal firm of the City of Montreal but was in financial straits: $50 million in debt, little liquidity, late deliveries, software bugs and facing several lawsuits. At the same time, the provincial government had a problem with a city selling products to other cities.
So Montreal then went from owner to client, just like any other city that buys the service. It’s now only responsible for Bixi-Montreal, which has 5,000 bikes and and enjoys a budget surplus.
Sabbatini said it’s not in a city’s DNA to run a commercial business, but tips his hat to those who launched Bixi in 2008.
“We should be proud of what was created here,” he said.
Electric bikes a possibility
PBSC launched last week a call for tenders for its new electric bike dubbed “Boost.” It’s a regular Bixi bike, but equipped with a motor on the rear wheel, a long-life battery and a regulator to maintain speeds without additional effort when pedalling up hills.
Interested cities will be able to carry them in the fall. Montreal is “interested,” Sabbatini said. Bérengère Theriault, a spokeswoman for Bixi-Montreal, said it must stick to the 5,000 bikes in circulation until 2019. Municipal leaders will then decide whether to adopt the enhanced bikes.
Keeping it local
Bixi bikes are produced at a factory in Saguenay, Que., which can churn out 2,000 bikes a month. But even with the high demand, Sabbatini says the goal is to keep operations in Quebec.
More cities, however, are demanding that part of the production be done locally, in their jurisdictions.
“We have to work with this, but it’s our priority to favour our Quebec providers,” Sabbatini said. “It will be a good problem to have when we reach maximum capacity, but we’ll find solutions when the time comes.”
1,000 new bikes and 120 new stations coming bought from PBSC Urban Solutions
The Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) has chosen a new supplier for the city’s public bike-sharing system, a move that will see the TPA buy 1,000 new bikes and 120 new stations this year.
PBSC Urban Solutions is the new supplier, an international company that already provides cities like Montreal, New York, Washington, San Francisco and London with bike-sharing systems.
The purchase more than doubles the number of bikes in Bike Share Toronto, according to the TPA.
On top of new bikes and stations, PBSC will replace the electronic components in the current system so that the existing pay stations and docks are fully integrated with the new system. The deal with PBSC is for the next five years.
“We had a very thorough and detailed tender process, in search of a company that had the best roadmap for the future of bike share and the best value for our dollar,” said TPA President Lorne Persiko in a news release Monday.
Last summer the provincial government committed $4.9 million to expand Bike Share Toronto’s network through a partnership between Metrolinx and the TPA, with 20 per cent of the funds going to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
At the time Metrolinx said the the new fleet will be set up near popular transit stations to give commuters the option to use bikes as part of their travel journey.
TPA says that this expansion is a “significant step” toward the authority’s goal of creating a world-class bike sharing system in Toronto.