Road wars: Vigilante cyclists strike back

YouTube video depicts the dangers riders face in designated bike lanes

The ongoing street war between Toronto drivers and cyclists has reached a new level these days with the publishing of a YouTube video depicting how dangerous it is for bikers to drive in their designated lanes.

Meanwhile, Toronto police have received an increase in complaints from cyclists worried for their safety.

Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker and rider said he believes that the video, which depicts the dangers cyclists sometimes face even in dedicated bike lanes, to be accurate.

“Ninety nine per cent of drivers are respectful, but one per cent are lazy, inconsiderate and are putting biker’s in danger,” De Baeremaeker said. Cyclists being struck by vehicles is nothing new in the GTA. In early November, a 14-year-old Durham Region boy was hit by a turning car and rushed to hospital with serious injuries.

That same month a 56-year-old man was killed after being struck by two cars while riding his bike near Woodbine Racetrack on Hwy. 27 at Vice Regent Blvd. in Etobicoke.

As a result of recent criticism and concern, the city is holding a public consultation to talk about bike lanes in downtown Toronto.

Meantime, Beck Taxi has been bombarded with media attention after a Tweet sent out showed a line up of 16 cars parked in a bike lane.

“They can’t park on the side of the road, they can’t park in the lane beside it, where can they park? How are we supposed to get customers if we can’t reach them?” said one driver for Beck Taxi.

Mirko Miljevic is a downtown resident and cyclist who says he encounters careless drivers on a daily basis, making the streets extremely dangerous.

“In a time when a lot of drivers are on their phones or distracted by something else, they may not notice a biker beside or in front of them,” Miljevic said.  

“I think this is a big safety issue that our city isn’t handling well. Something needs to be changed before this gets out of hand.”

As a result of the recent publicity demanding safety for riders, the city is considering the option of taking videos as well as photos as evidence, and having bylaw officers issue tickets to offenders, similar to how red light cameras are currently
used.

In 2013, there was 198 km of bike lanes and 6,719 tickets issued to drivers for parking in them.

By 2015, Toronto had 229 kilometres of bike lanes, but they were the source of only 6,503 parking tickets.