Toronto Considers Crackdown on Motorists Blocking Bike Lanes

CBC reports that Toronto may be sending tickets directly in the mail to cars parked in bicycle lanes without the possibility of court, just by taking a picture.

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According to CBC, the City of Toronto, ON is considering easing the process by which bylaw officers ticket motorists who are blocking bike lanes. If the change passes, bylaw officers will have their new authority in place by spring of 2016.

Currently, when ticketing a vehicle for any manner of illegal parking, an officer must place the ticket on the vehicle. However, if the new model is given the green light, officers will be able to simply take a picture of the offending car to look up the registered owner and then send this person a ticket in the mail.

This ticketing model would operate under a system in which less serious offences are taken out of court. The photo aspect would mean that cars idling in the bike lane couldn’t just drive away to avoid a ticket. All that’s needed is a quick snap of the camera.

Regardless of whether this system would be introduced to penalize less serious offences, cycling advocates are proposing that this change could help keep bike lanes clear of vehicles. While the current fine for blocking a bike lane is $150, many motorists still do so because the chances of actually having to pay up are minimal. We’ve all heard it: “Fight the ticket, the officers don’t show up half the time.” People often commit small offences because they think that within the 50/50 chance of being ticketed, there is another 50/50 chance of the ticket going through and actually being held responsible to the fine. The photo would take the burden of proof off bylaw officers and enable them to send fines to offenders at a higher rate.

While the city of Toronto has added more and more bike lanes in recent years (from 198 kilometers of bike lanes  in 2013 t0  229 kilometers of bike lanes in 2015),  there has been no corresponding increase to the number of tickets distributed to vehicles parked in them.  In 2013, 6,719 tickets were issued to drivers for parking in bike lanes, the number decreased to 6,503 in 2015.

The issue of vehicles parked in bikes has become an a heated issue in Toronto as of late, so this lack of tickets is not a matter of more drivers being respectful of cyclists and their designated lanes. Even city Councilor Glenn De Baeremaeker of Toronto has come out saying that it is an occurence that is not exaggerated in videos posted online.

The possibility of the new system will come before Toronto council in the next few months. If the system is given the green-light go-ahead, it will be interesting to see whether the new method of ticketing cars parked in bike lanes will act as a more effective deterrent, and possibly serve as a model for other cities struggling with the same issue.

 

 

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