Ottawa

Spike in tickets for drivers parked in bike lanes

183 tickets given out so far this year, compared to 91 for all of 2016

Posted: July 28, 2017
Last Updated: July 28, 2017

Bylaw officers have handed out 183 tickets up so far this year. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

At the very least it's annoying, and at its most serious it can be life-threatening: Vehicles parked in cycling lanes are problematic and appear to be a growing trend in Ottawa.

The number of drivers charged for blocking bicycle lanes has more than doubled in the first seven months of 2017 compared to all of last year.

As of Wednesday, the city's bylaw officers had handed out 183 tickets to drivers parked in bike lanes.

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The total for 2016 was 91.

According to Jerrod Riley, a review officer in the city's bylaw department, there are two main reasons for the jump in charges.

The first is that the city is increasing its focus on cycling safety, so bylaw officers are more cognizant of vehicles illegally parked in the lanes.

As well, the city's cycling network is growing with more lanes opening, especially in the downtown core, said Riley. More lanes provide more places for vehicles to park illegally.

Laurier Avenue biggest problem

While bylaw does receive calls about offenders, most tickets are handed out by parking enforcement officers who are already out and about on the streets.

There's one street that stands out for problems: The segregated bike lanes on Laurier Avenue between Elgin and Bay streets. Tickets handed out to parked cars on the Laurier cycling lanes accounted for 17 per cent of the total infractions handed out so far this year.

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Breaking the city's bylaw comes with a $120 hit to your wallet. 

"But that's the smallest consequence," said Riley." Vehicles blocking cycling lanes are not a common issue. But it's a very serious one. It's irresponsible and needlessly endangers the lives of cyclists and it's not something the city will tolerate."

Company, government vehicles also caught

And it's not just private vehicles being caught.

Canada Post announced earlier this week that they would stop their vehicles from parking in bike lanes when their drivers were making deliveries or pickups, in Toronto, after the Crown corporation came under fire in the media.

But there was no indication whether that edict also applied to other cities across the country.

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The city said in a statement that bylaws are enforceable for Crown corporations. However, they don't keep track of the type of vehicles they hand out tickets for.

The city is also stepping up focused enforcement campaigns alongside Ottawa police and Safer Roads Ottawa.

Dozen tickets handed out in two-day blitz

During a two-day blitz last week, the city handed out 12 tickets to drivers parking in bicycle or bus lanes in the downtown core.

However, Riley points out that despite the growing number of tickets, it's still a small percentage of the 250,000 traffic and parking violations handed out each year.

Still, the problem shows no sign of ending.

On Twitter and Facebook, several people continue to point out drivers' failure to abide by the city's bylaws.

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Tweets show photos of corporate vehicles blocking a bike lane, directly in front of a sign saying not to block the lane.