No blocked bike lanes on this guy’s patrol
Traffic officer takes to a bike and twitter to aid cyclists
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
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.