Special Lanes Need Enforcement

Don Mills Road is really not a terrible place to ride should you have to commute in or out of the city’s east side. Most of the road is 4 lanes in each direction which are completely separate in many places. The far right lane is reserved for car pools (3 or more), taxis, motorbikes, and bicycles from 7-10am as well as 3-6pm. The same type of carpool lane exists on Overlea…which I use to get to Don Mills.

Riding to work between 7-8am allows me to see first hand that a complete lack of enforcement, or even threat of fine, has rendered these lane designations moot. On Don Mills Road, I saw no less than 50% of the lane users in cars by themselves, often trying to get ahead of traffic at major intersections, swooping around my bicycle and speeding to be first off the line. It is hard for me to resist pulling casually in front of them and proceeding to take the lane going away from the light…and often i do just that to protest-filled honking and the occasional shout. Later in the week, carpooling up the DVP, I saw the exact same scenario as the majority of cars in the full-time HOV lane contained only drivers.

The result is the same as when a car is parked in a bike lane…disruption of traffic that most affects the rightful users of that space. In both cases, cyclists are of course most endangered, being the most exposed users of the road.  Recently there has been alot of talk about motorists, even police!, parking in bike lanes…both this problem and the ones on the DVP, Don Mills Rd, and other special lanes around Toronto require enforcement for these lanes to be used by the reduced carbon-per-person transport they were created for.

The idea of HOV lanes and shared transit/HOV/bike lanes is a great one, but without a promise of a stiff fine and some enforcement, they don’t work. In many places, HOV signs are accompanied by promise of fines of $250+ for using the lane without the required amount of passengers. Local police enforce these fines and ensure that single auto operators are held accountable for staying where they belong…in the painfully slow normal flow of traffic. Don Mills Rd would also be helped by making the car pool lanes permanent, and not just for parts of the day. If three lane of traffic is sufficient at the rush hour times when the right lane’s restrictions are in effect, it should certainly suffice the rest of the day. Taking the guess work out of whether one can or cannot use the kane based on the time of day would better train driver behavior to ignore that lane completely unless carpooling. If the city could help enforce this, Don Mills Rd could become a much more popular route for long commutes…and my commute would be much safer.

June 28 Rides – 9.33 Km

June 29 Rides – 58.73Km 

June 30 Rides – 4.72KM

July 1 Rides – 3.32Km

Total KM Ridden: 616.17
Total $ Saved: $236

Curent Savings: $71 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

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