Ministry of Labour orders bike racks removed on certain TTC buses
If you’re a cyclist who relies on an articulated TTC bus as part of your commute, you’ll have to get by without the bike rack until the transit agency figures out a solution to a recently discovered safety issue.
Bicycles plunked on the racks of certain buses can impair a driver’s view of the road, and the Ministry of Labour has ordered the racks not be used. The 100 bendy buses that have been ferrying Torontonians around since December were the source of the original complaint, and present the bigger challenge — those racks are “locked out” for now until the TTC can find an engineering solution, said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.
With the Orion VII bus, which makes up the majority of the TTC bus fleet (1600 of 1800 buses), the issue is accessory-based — racks can still be used but drivers may ask cyclists to remove certain items, like baby seats, which can interfere with their view, he explained.
The bendy-bus fleet (153 buses purchased for $143.7 million) made its debut last December and operates on routes like the 7 Bathurst, 36 Finch West and 63 Ossington. For now, streetcar rules apply on those buses — if there’s space, you can bring the bike on board.
Ross said a driver raised the concern through a joint health and safety committee earlier this year. An ergonomic review also looked at the Orion VIIs, and when the results came back, the ministry made its order.
“The big concern we always have when there is a change like that, that the public understand and sympathize with the driver,” says Bob Kinnear, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
Bike racks were introduced on TTC buses in 2005 as a pilot project. During the project the highest observed usage was 20 customers during one day on the 29 Dufferin, a route that drew 43,300 customers a day, the Star reported at the time. Defending the program, then TTC vice-chair Adam Giambrone said that once the bike racks were in place throughout the bus system (as they currently are), users will “quickly begin to multiply.”
Ross did not have current usage statistics available at press time, but anecdotally, Cycle Toronto’s Jared Kolb says the racks are well used, and play a key role in a transit system that generally can’t pick you up at your front door and drop you off at your destination.
“We need to integrate our modes of transportation to really unlock transportation in this city. Bikes and transit, it’s a fantastic combination,” he said. “Having the ability if you break down, if you’re too tired, if you’re trying to connect from one place to another — the bike racks are a major asset that people across the city rely on.”
Bike racks have not been an issue on GO buses, said Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins. A city of Mississauga spokesperson said the city had not been contacted by the ministry, and in York region, there have been no orders to remove bike racks on any York Region Transit or Viva buses.
Brad Ross said the ministry is not taking any enforcement action while the TTC figures out a solution. For the majority of the fleet, it’s a communication issue.
“We need to come up with a solution, and some language to help explain to customers, what they can or can’t load on to the bike rack by way of accessories, that is still being worked through,” he said.