On a recent ride down a bike lane in Oakland at rush hour, I counted the obstacles: Two parked cars, one idling charter bus, and a FedEx delivery van. When drivers use a bike lane as extra parking, it’s a violation few cities enforce–and in places like New York, cop cars are often among the offenders.
Two Toronto cyclists decided to empower fellow riders to fight back. Their bright green sticker is meant to be slapped on the windshield of an illegally parked car. The message on them is simple: “I parked in a bike lane.”
“This has been a long building frustration that peaked when we were talking about how terrible riding in Toronto has been lately,” emailed one of the sticker’s creators, who wants to remain anonymous. “Drivers are blatantly ignoring lanes and putting cyclists in danger.”
The cyclists aren’t the first make stickers like this–an earlier project used the same message, and activists in Russia are using more aggressive stickers to mark cars in pedestrian zones. But what started as a joke among Toronto friends quickly took off.
“We were out of the first 1,000 in less than a week,” the cyclist says. “I think there’s been such a big response because it’s a small way to make your voice heard. A lot of people depend on cycling to get around and function in a big city. It’s an integral part of my daily life. It’s incredibly frustrating to see drivers mindlessly and selfishly putting others in danger.”
Drivers who get the stickers are often less than happy. “Some people are totally pissed about it, I’ve gotten some threats via email and Instagram,” she says. “I urge everyone who chooses to participate to use their judgment and be safe. However, I do think that drivers should take time to think about why this happened. … I hope that it will maybe make people think twice about their actions.”
“Anyone who is bothered by this campaign should spend a week commuting by bike in the city,” she adds. “I think they would change their minds.”