A Toronto cyclist took photos and put a post up on Twitter complaining about what is alleged to have been a valet service for a special event at upscale clothing store Holt Renfrew that had cars lined up and down the street blocking the separated bike lane on Bloor west of Yonge.
The person who posted the message tagged the city’s traffic services department and a commenter brought it to the attention of PEO Erin Urquhart, a cycling enforcement officer for the city who patrols Toronto’s bike lanes ticketing those who illegally park their vehicles. She was not working at the time.
😩🤯 OMG. I was unfortunately not on the road at this time. What was the valet for ?!
— PEO Erin Urquhart (@TPS_BikeHart) March 30, 2023
The cyclist, Derek Lind, said he took the picture at 5:56 p.m. on March 29.
“At the time of the picture there were 14 cars in the cycle track with more waiting to get in,” he added.
“I have come across this before at the Cactus Club on Adelaide and at the new Canopy condo at Bloor and Sherbourne. I haven’t seen it anything like this in front of Holt Renfrew before.”
Lind explained that those working the valet service for the event were not those usually working valet at Holt’s.
Ironically, when Lind stopped to take the photo there was nobody in the live traffic lane as drivers had lined up their vehicles along Bloor to Yonge where they were blocking other traffic as well.
An event called the Well Dressed for Spring Fashion Show, a charitable fundraiser, was scheduled to be held at Holt Renfrew Centre, 50 Bloor St. W. on March 29 beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event included a cocktail reception and private shopping experience at the store.
Some on social media called out to Holt Renfrew but there was no response.
@HRCtoronto @HoltRenfrew is this valet for your customers?
— Eric Stackle (@flexableroster) March 30, 2023
Although it is more permissible under certain circumstances to park in a painted bike lane temporarily, that is not the case for the city’s protected cycle tracks such as those that run along Bloor Street.
TPS media spokesperson Victor Kwong said Toronto Police Service was not informed of the bike lane blocking incident. When asked if there was a request for a permit to park in the bike lane for the event, Kwong added that there was not.
“No request was made to Parking Enforcement,” he said. “If made, it cannot be approved.”
When asked if parking is ever permitted for special occasions in a city bike lane, Kwong said only in the rarest of circumstances possibly, but to his knowledge, it is never happened.
“Possibly in very rare and exceptional circumstances where there is a critical safety/security issue,” he added.
According to Chapter 886-15 of the Toronto Municipal Code, “No person shall operate or stop a vehicle other than a bicycle or large cargo-power assisted bicycle in any cycle track except for the purpose of: Moving into or leaving a private lane or driveway adjacent to the bicycle lane. Loading or unloading of persons with a disability from a Wheel-Trans vehicle, operated by or under contract to TTC, while actively engaged in doing so.”
When requested to comment on the incident, Holt Renfrew issued the following statement:
“At Holt Renfrew, we’re proud to partner and help support organizations in Toronto and around the country through a variety of ways, including hosting events. There was a charity event last night at the Bloor store raising money to help people living with cancer. Hundreds attended, which is great for the organization and their mission. Given the time of the event and number of attendees, there was a very brief (less than 30 minutes) backlog with the valet service. A parking enforcement officer was on-hand to help manage the situation while it quickly cleared.”
The fine for parking in a bicycle lane or cycle track is $150.