Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bike lane backlash

A Toronto Police officer who parked his cruiser in a bike lane to get his lunch is getting no love from his superiors, who are coming down hard on his "stupid" and "unacceptable" actions.

On Sunday,the Sun witnessed a city cop sitting inside the Grillway Cafe, at Runnymede Rd. and Annette St., while his cruiser was blocking a bike lane on Annette.

The officer was parked there for at least 20 minutes before leaving the cafe with a can of pop and a paper lunch bag.

But instead of protecting their own, Toronto Police brass called the officer's parking actions "stupid" and "unacceptable."


Last week, cycling advocates brought the issue of blocking bike lanes for non-emergency reasons to the attention of the Toronto Police Services Board, which asked Chief Bill Blair to examine the issue.

"That's not kosher at all. It's right in our procedures that, outside of exigent circumstances, you do not park illegally, and that includes in bike lanes," said Sgt. Tim Burrows, of the force's traffic services department. He added higher-ups at the force were "incensed" when they heard about the Annette St. incident.

"It's very unfortunate that the officer decided to do this, but from the top on down, it's something that will not be tolerated," he insisted.

Residents said yesterday it's not unusual for officers to park illegally in the bike lane while they get some food at the popular Grillway.

"They're parked there quite often," said Orest Zakydalsky, who lives a few doors from the cafe. His mother and aunt were both dinged with $60 tickets for blocking the bike lane on the day city management posted bike lane signs without warning during the civic strike.

"I think it's a bit strange that the very people who are giving us tickets for parking in the bike lane do it themselves whenever they feel like it," Zakydalsky said.

Staff Insp. Peter Lennox, who runs 11 Division where the officer is from, said he would be issuing a division-wide communique "right away" reminding officers they can't block bike lanes, or otherwise park illegally, except in specific situations.

"All things being equal, we expect them to follow the same laws as everybody else," Lennox said. "I'm going to make sure people know that that's not to be done.

"They can park legally along with everyone else when they go into not only the Grillway, but anywhere else in the division."

Lennox said it's "possible" the officer who blocked the bike lane will face a reprimand, but not without an internal investigation.

Former police services board chairman Alan Heisey urged current members Thursday to start a ticketing blitz against bike lane blockers.

Yvonne Bambrick, the executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union, also raised concerns about the issue with the board last week, calling for the province to double the $60 fine for parking in a bike lane.

Her association also wants the city's emergency services to use common sense when it comes to blocking bike lanes.

"It happens all the time," she said. "We totally understand their need when they are working, but when they're having lunch, or whatever, find a side street or a parking space.

Toronto Sun

1 comment:

  1. I disagree with the bike lanes being there in the first place. There isn't enough bike traffic along Annette to warrant this exclusive lane. The lane meanders around parked cars and will be unenforceable in the winter when very very few bicycle riders will dare to engage the weather. It's a nice Green idea but a total debacle in the long term. Just the cost alone of painting the lines is ridiculous.This is the first time in 20 years that the condition of the road has been improved and then they hamper the traffic with a ridiculous restriction like this. Pity.