Sorry can be a hard thing to say. But if utilities parked in bike lanes simply apologized to cyclists, they might see it as a genuine conciliatory gesture.

Our Aug. 11 column about service trucks belonging to a Rogers contractor parked in the Sherbourne St. cycling lane prompted a flood of email from readers. Even now, notes continue to roll in.

After our Saturday column about fibre optic service trucks parked in the Sherbourne St. cycling lane, many readers told us it is inexcusable. But a surprising number said they could forgive the Rogers contractor because it was an emergency repair and there isn't anywhere else to park.
After our Saturday column about fibre optic service trucks parked in the Sherbourne St. cycling lane, many readers told us it is inexcusable. But a surprising number said they could forgive the Rogers contractor because it was an emergency repair and there isn’t anywhere else to park.  (JACK LAKEY)

Many cyclists were uncompromising, insisting no reason is good enough to park in a bike lane, even for emergency repairs to infrastructure we all rely on, like fibre optic internet cable.

Others were more empathetic. Some noted that drivers are routinely pushed aside to make way for condo or road construction. They understood it is part and parcel of navigating roads in a city where construction never ends.

We were impressed with the diversity of opinion, particularly from bike riders sophisticated enough to recognize that parking options are limited for contractors doing emergency repairs in the downtown core.

But a few took those considerations to another level, suggesting the impact could be reduced by creating a temporary lane to allow cyclists to detour around service trucks camped out in the bike lane.

Rod Crombie raised a good point: “What happens if a house sells and the owner is ready to move? Where does the moving van park? Around the nearest corner? Across the street?

“This brought to mind what happens when construction must temporarily block a lane of traffic.

“I wonder if the city could implement a system where a permit could be arranged, for example for four hours, where a one metre bicycle lane could be created next to the parked vehicle, using (pylons) and warning signs so cyclists and motorists are aware of the blockage/diversion.

“This would allow those with a true requirement to block the bike lane while ensuring everyone’s safety.”

In a similar vein, Penny Seymour noted that if contractors who obstruct a cycling lane for a legitimate reason would just acknowledge the problems they’re making for cyclists, it can only help.

“Would it cool tempers a bit if there was a sandwich board-type sign just ahead of the repair truck? It could say something like ‘we’re sorry for the inconvenience — please be patient, we’ll be out of your way as soon as possible. Thanks!’

“Motorists have to cope with problems like that sometimes, too. Perhaps a modicum of civility might help?”

Everyone must occasionally make way for construction or emergency work. It’s a fact of life, even for cyclists who believe their own lane is sacrosanct.

Drivers got used to it long ago. Bike riders face the same reality. In a perfect world, cycling lanes would never be impeded. But in Toronto, nothing gets in the way of progress.

It’s part of the cost of living here. Good on the cyclists who understand that.

What’s broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Email [email protected] or follow @TOStarFixer on Twitter

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