I usually describe cycling in Toronto as life in the Fedex Lane but it appears that it should have a new name, the Beck Lane, after Toronto's biggest taxi company, which appears to have taken over the bike lanes as their own dedicated parking areas. Last weekend they even took over a protected bike lane, with twenty taxis, each carefully parked between the posts that are supposed to keep cars out. Even the head of the taxi company was shocked, shocked, by her drivers' actions, and is quoted in the Star:
The words escape me — when I saw it, I couldn't believe it,” Hubbard said of viewing the photos on Twitter on Saturday morning, adding she values bike lanes. “This can never happen again.
But as other tweeters noted, this is not the first time this has happened. In fact one enterprising photographer has made a collection of Beck Taxi photos:
The story has in fact gone global, with coverage as far away as London's Road.cc which published Taxi drivers caught parking en masse in Toronto bike lanes , noting that there was more than one case of this.
Passing cyclists photographed groups of matching taxis on three separate occasions, from a different company each time, parked in rows along bike lanes across the city. Each was clearly marked with painted lines, kerbs, and in one case, plastic wands.
The local cycling advocacy group, Cycle Toronto, has been requesting that Beck Taxi publish their position on taxis in the bike lanes, but has not heard back from the. It's now demanding a boycott:
It's tough to figure out where to stand on this issue in Toronto. I personally always used Beck, preferring to support the taxi industry in its battle against UBER. They even had a relatively effective app to make ordering a cab more UBER-like. I have deleted it now and am joining the boycott.
But Beck is not the only one doing this; it is a consistent problem, the rules are rarely enforced, and the whole mindset of the city still is cars first, bikes and pedestrians somewhere down there below Fedex, UPS, delivery vehicles and movie trucks. Until that changes, it will continue to be life as usual in the Beck Lane.