Drivers need to show respect for Sherbourne bike lanes
The much-awaited Sherbourne St. cycling lanes officially opened yesterday, to mostly positive reviews from riders who began using them last winter.
But until taxi and delivery drivers stop seeing the lanes as just another place to pull over, bike riders will be denied the full benefits of a dedicated space created to make cycling safer.
A story in the Star today noted that work will begin next year on east-west dedicated bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide Sts. They’ll eventually connect to north-south lanes on a street still to be determined on the west side of the downtown core, to create a central cycling grid.
The city deserves credit for expanding cycling infrastructure in the inner city, even though it took out bike lanes on some suburban streets and killed the Jarvis St. lanes, over protests.
The Star story quoted a cyclist who made a good point: The city should be educating drivers and cyclists on how the lanes work, and particularly delivery and taxi drivers, who are parking in them.
The lanes are separated from vehicular traffic by a rounded curbstone that’s not much higher than the surface of the pavement, which was done to accommodate emergency vehicles. The curbstone is also flattened at dozens of spots to allow access to laneways.
There is nothing to stop a parcel truck or taxi from pulling into the bike lane to make a delivery or pick up a fare, which is happening all the time.
Readers have sent me photos of vehicles parked across the lanes, and I’ve often seen the same thing in my travels along Sherbourne, and have stopped to take pictures myself.
A parked vehicle forces riders to decide whether to veer into the traffic on their left or mount the sidewalk and mingle with pedestrians, which defeats the purpose of the bike lane.
It requires a change in thinking on the part of drivers, or the dedicated space concept is meaningless.
If the city is serious about keeping them clear for cyclists, Sherbourne should be heavily patrolled by parking enforcement officers, who can issue a $150 ticket for blocking a bike lane.
That might be the most effective learning tool of all.