Mayor Jim Watson has formally written Canada Post requesting that their vehicles stop parking in bicycle lanes in Ottawa when making deliveries.
Last week a parking enforcement officer in Toronto (Kyle Ashley) succeeded in getting Canada Post to promise to stay out of bike lanes in that city. The promise only applied to Toronto, but a day later a Canada Post spokesperson said in a perfunctory manner that the rule applied everywhere.
This wasn’t good enough for Mayor Jim Watson whose letter to the crown corporation states “The City of Ottawa is formally requesting that an official statement be made similar to the one issued to your Toronto-based employees here in Ottawa to Canada Post employees.”
I think this is all very good, but what about other violators? Kyle Ashley, the parking enforcement officer who started the ball rolling on this issue, said that while Canada Post was the “worst offender”, other delivery companies such as FedEx are right up there, along with Ubers and taxis.
Maybe the mayor should encourage the police to more to crack down on all vehicles stopping in bike lanes, including motorists who are increasingly using them as texting areas. But wait, it’s often the police themselves who block bike lanes. Yes, police are allowed to park in bike lanes when answering calls, but they also stop in them to do some administrative work on their car’s computer terminals. In these cases, the bike lane is being used as nothing more than a parking spot for a portable office cubical.
One of my favourites is the way construction crews block bike lanes and paths. I once saw a pathway that was closed so construction workers would have a place to park their vehicles. Just to be clear, the construction work wasn’t being done on the pathway, nor was the pathway being blocked by actual construction equipment. It was simply being used as a parking spot for the vehicles of the crew of a construction project on a nearby road.
In another example, there was a sign alerting people to construction work that was installed right smack in the middle of a bike lane on Island Park Drive. To make matters worst, this construction activity wasn’t even on Island Park. The work was taking place on a side street, a few hundred metres away from Island Park.
I also found it interesting that Ottawa Citizen columnist David Reevely discovered that taxis can stop in Ottawa bike lanes for pickups and drop-offs, but not for more than 45 seconds. Some taxis drivers will park in a bike lane for several minutes while waiting for their fare, and they will tell you they are allowed to do this. The police probably also think they’re allowed to do this.
The mayor should be commended for showing enough interest in the issue to write Canada Post, but I think he has the power to do more than this to ensure that bike lanes stay clear and safe for cyclists.
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