Toronto ponders taking photos, then ticketing cars blocking bike lanes

Changes to how city parking rules are enforced could come this spring, including one that would allow parking officers to take a picture of an illegally parked vehicle and send a ticket in the mail.
Some cyclists say too many drivers are using bike lanes as temporary parking spaces. (David Donnelly/CBC)

City of Toronto bylaw officers could be given the green light by this spring to ticket vehicles illegally parked in bike lanes by snapping a photo.

If the change is implemented, staff would be able to use the photo to look up the registered owner of the vehicle and then send that person a ticket in the mail.

As it stands now, an officer must put the ticket on the vehicle, but that could change if the city moves to this model, dubbed the administrative monetary penalty system, in which less serious offences are taken out of court. 

Cycling advocates say the move could help keep bike lanes clear.

Jared Kolb, executive director of the cycling advocacy group Cycle Toronto, says for many drivers, the risk of a $150 fine is not a sufficient deterrent.

"We know there's a $150 fine out there but drivers are ignoring it," he said. "Even if a parking enforcement officer shows, they can just drive away."

Although the city has added more bike lanes in recent years, this hasn't led to a corresponding increase in the number of parking tickets issued to drivers who block them.

In 2013, there was 198 kilometres of bike lanes and 6,719 tickets issued to drivers for parking in them.

By 2015, Toronto had 229 kilometres of bike lanes, but they were the source of only 6,503 parking tickets.  

City staff will report on the idea in the next few months. It could come before council for a vote in time for the start of cycling season in the spring.