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Issue 013

Route Down

by Laura Kiniry

December 8, 2008
When officials in Toronto backed out of a plan to expand the city's bike lanes, a group of anonymous cyclists decided to do what the city would not. Armed with stencils and paint, and sporting disguises and alibis, they descended upon the notoriously dangerous Bloor Street, a major city thoroughfare, and carved out a bike lane all on their own. "The city had been insisting for years that it was impossible to install a bike lane on Bloor," says "Alvin," one of the clandestine painters. "We dared to differ."The group, which calls itself the Other/Official Urban Repair Squad and now claims 20 members, has gone on to perform similar feats, carving rush-hour bike lanes and "sharrows"-shared lanes for cars and bikes-into streets throughout Toronto. The police have turned a blind eye to their efforts, or have been too confused to interfere. The Mayor's office, however, takes a less friendly view: The unauthorized bike lanes are usually painted over within a couple of weeks. As for any problems caused by the new lanes, Alvin says, "No accidents, no complaints, but many smiles."Learn More urbanrepairs.blogspot.comPhoto Martin Reis
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