On my commute home on Thursday, I had an interesting encounter with a motorist.
On Thursdays, I travel along Keats Way roughly at the time that Keats Way Public School lets out. There are always motor vehicles parked in the bike lane on the south side of Keats Way. But today, for the first time, I encountered an SUV parked on the north side (westbound) bike lane, blocking my way.
I asked the driver why she had parked in a bike lane, and to my surprise, she responded that it was fine because “there are no signs prohibiting it, and the traffic police says it’s okay”. She was indeed correct that there were no signs indicating a parking prohibition, but I would be rather interested to meet these supposed traffic cops, because here are the laws about parking in a bike lane in Waterloo:
From City of Waterloo Bylaw 08-077 Section 3 (a) xxv:
Unless otherwise permitted in this By-law, no person shall park a vehicle on any highway in such a manner so as to obstruct any designated bicycle lane, provided that this shall not prohibit:
– a momentary stopping of transit buses at signs marking a bus stop
– taxis actively engaged in receiving or discharging passengers
– or, other motor vehicles while actively engaged in receiving or discharging passengers
Parking in a bike lane is not otherwise permitted elsewhere in the bylaw, and a “highway” refers to any public roadway, including Keats Way. As a side note, I find it strange that taxis are singled out, despite the rule being the same for them as for everyone else.
There is no specific definition for being “actively engaged in receiving or discharging passengers”, but I would feel confident saying that waiting fifteen minutes for someone to show up is not included.
In searching for the legality of parking in a bike lane, I discovered a major challenge to its enforcement: every municipality has its own laws about parking.
Citizens cannot reasonably be expected to know the laws from each individual municipality. Many motorists would not even know what municipality they are in. I know that I personally do not know where the exact border is between Kitchener and Waterloo.
That said, the laws regarding bike lanes are typically the same, and Kitchener’s parking rules are word-for-word identical. But still, I think it would make sense for parking regulations such as bike lane rules to be officially standardized on a provincial level.
The main issue raised by my encounter is that some member of the public is unaware that there are rules regarding other than those posted. One popular suggestion for improving road users’ knowledge of road rules is to license them. But as you may be aware, drivers are already licensed.
I do not have a clear answer as to how we could reduce the occurrence of bike lane parking. My suggestion would be to move the bike lanes off the roadway to eliminate the issue altogether. But on-street bike lanes do have a place in our transportation system, so even this option is not final. Enforcement would be essential for the on-street bike lanes which do exist.
What else can we do to reduce bike lane parking?