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Drivers use bike lanes for parking on St. George St.

Cycling lanes along St. George St. don’t seem to mean much to drivers picking up or dropping off people at the University of Toronto.

Drawing a line between motorized traffic and bike riders is a straightforward business, or so you’d think. Cyclists over here, drivers over there.

A cyclist signals to a driver behind him before veering around a paper shredding truck parked in the bike lane on the west side of St. George St., just north of College St.  (JACK LAKEY FOR THE TORONTO STAR)

The steadily-growing network of bike lanes was devised to give cyclists their own space, to keep them out of motorized traffic and make cycling a bit less dangerous.

Some drivers resent the space allotted to bikes, but it’s in everyone’s interest that they have a dedicated lane; the more people who ride, the better the air we all breathe. And if some people are on a bike instead of in a car, fewer vehicles are on the road to contribute to gridlock.

It works pretty well if drivers recognize and respect bike lanes, but that is definitely not the case along St. George St., within the U of T campus.

Margaret Oldfield, a U of T scientist who cycles to work, emailed to say vehicles often pull over in the St. George bike lane outside the Rotman faculty building, north of Harbord St., forcing cyclists into traffic.

“Today, something even more dangerous happened,” she said. “A passenger getting out of a car that stopped beside the bike lane opened her door into the path of a cyclist.

“He avoided being ‘doored’ but was very angry, with good reason. I tried to explain to the woman that this is not only illegal ($150 fine) but can seriously injure a cyclist.

“She felt that saying ‘sorry’ was enough and walked away from both of us,” said Oldfield, adding that better markings on the pavement to remind drivers of the bike lane would help.

We went there late in the afternoon and saw a half-dozen vehicles stop in the cycling lanes on both sides of St. George to pick up or drop off people, their drivers seemingly oblivious to the hazard they created.

We also saw a paper-shredding truck park for about 15 minutes on the west side of St. George, just north of College St., while the driver wheeled bins in and out of a building, forcing cyclists into traffic to go around.

Better markings couldn’t hurt, as would some temporary off-street parking, where pickups and drop-offs could be made. But until more drivers respect the sanctity of bike lanes, they cannot provide the safety for which they’re intended.

STATUS: We’ve sent a note to Allen Pinkerton, who’s in charge of traffic signs and markings, asking if more cycling markings could be applied to the St. George lanes, and if more signs could be posted to tell drivers not to stop in them.

What’s broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Email [email protected] or follow @TOStarFixer on Twitter

Source : TheStar

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