No blocked bike lanes on this guy’s pa­trol

Traf­fic of­fi­cer takes to a bike and twitter to aid cy­clists

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - TEVIAH MORO tmoro@thes­pec.com 905-526-3264 | @Te­vi­ahMoro

A Hamil­ton park­ing of­fi­cer is mak­ing the rounds on two wheels in a new ef­fort to ticket mo­torists who block bike lanes.

The city re­sponse comes amid a grow­ing cho­rus of com­plaints about driv­ers stopped in lanes re­served for cy­clists.

The park­ing of­fi­cer — whose bike pa­trols the city an­nounced last week — posts snap­shots of in­frac­tions paired with slightly cheeky mes­sages on Twitter.

“Your four ways don’t al­low you to park in a bike lane,” Aaron Griese, known on Twitter as @Greaser1313, wrote on Tues­day.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful day to visit the #falls but please find a le­gal spot, bike lanes aren’t for park­ing,” he tweeted Sun­day.

The city has fielded many com­plaints about blocked bike lanes via so­cial me­dia, says Jason Thorne, Hamil­ton’s gen­eral man­ager of plan­ning and eco­nomic devel­op­ment. That’s why he asked Griese to keep abreast of beefs on­line, Thorne said Wed­nes­day.

Most com­plaints seem to be over driv­ers pulling over to load or un­load ve­hi­cles rather than park­ing for longer du­ra­tions.

“I think the mes­sage is you have to look for a le­gal park­ing spot.”

The end game is safety, he said, not­ing when cy­clists en­counter a parked car in a bike lane, they’re forced to veer out into traf­fic.

But the of­fi­cer’s en­force­ment du­ties don’t end with bike lanes; he’s tar­get­ing other in­frac­tions, as well, Thorne noted.

It’s more ef­fi­cient for him to pa­trol on a bike than in car, es­pe­cially in the lower city, he said.

Elise Des­jardins, a mem­ber of the Cy­cle Hamil­ton ad­vo­cacy group, ap­plauds the city’s ini­tia­tive.

Des­jardins, who rides her bike to her down­town work­place from Ainslie Wood, says she ne­go­ti­ates blocked lanes ev­ery day. “Even if it’s for a brief pe­riod of time, it’s still dan­ger­ous.”

Des­jardins says she tries to ed­u­cate mo­torists. “For the most part, driv­ers are apolo­getic.”

This sum­mer, Tom Flood and his six-year-old son, Oliver, started doc­u­ment­ing ob­structed bike lanes un­der the Twitter hash tag #blocked­inHamOnt.

“It’s dan­ger­ous enough for me veer­ing in and out of lanes,” said Flood, but for Oliver, he added, it’s “ex­tremely dan­ger­ous.”

Fol­low­ers of the cam­paign share pho­tos of clogged-up bike lanes, in­clud­ing some of de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles flout­ing the rules.

A Puro­la­tor spokesper­son told The Spec­ta­tor its driv­ers “are ex­pected to ad­here to the rules of the road, in­clud­ing park­ing reg­u­la­tions.”

Sim­i­larly, a Canada Post spokesper­son said the “ex­pec­ta­tion is that em­ploy­ees right across the coun­try serve cus­tomers while fol­low­ing the traf­fic laws, which in­clude re­spect­ing no-stop­ping zones like bike lanes.”

Flood said the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind #blocked­inHamOnt wasn’t to shame scofflaws but to present the find­ings to city coun­cil in Septem­ber.

How­ever, now that the city has tapped the cy­cling park­ing of­fi­cer, “we kind of got what we were look­ing for.”

The jour­ney to “friend­lier” streets hasn’t been with­out de­trac­tors. Some driv­ers gripe about hav­ing to share the road with cy­clists.

The ten­sions ride on the city’s ef­fort to ex­pand its net­work of bike lanes, two-way tracks and mixed-use trails guided by a 20year cy­cling mas­ter plan.

Daryl Ben­der, project man­ager of al­ter­na­tive trans­porta­tion, says Hamil­ton has about 190 kilo­me­tres of bike lanes, a mea­sure that counts both sides of the street.

Some changes also in­clude street mark­ings to flag spa­ces for cy­clists: green bike boxes al­low turn­ing rid­ers to queue in front of cars at in­ter­sec­tions.

Flood ac­knowl­edges cy­cling safety can be a “di­vi­sive is­sue,” but he doesn’t be­lieve most driv­ers who park in bike lanes do so out of mal­ice. “I think it’s just a mat­ter of aware­ness.”

I think the mes­sage is you have to look for a le­gal park­ing spot.

JASON THORNE GEN­ERAL MAN­AGER OF PLAN­NING AND ECO­NOMIC DEVEL­OP­MENT

TWITTER

The City of Hamil­ton has ap­pointed a full-time by-law of­fi­cer to specif­i­cally deal with mo­torists park­ing in the bike lanes and to use Twitter to in­form the pub­lic about the rules.

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