Toronto’s first “bike boxes” have appeared [PDF] on the corner of Harbord and St. George in the heart of the University of Toronto campus. While they may be a mystery to some cyclists (as well as drivers) they’re an important step in creating a safer and more visible way for cyclists to get around the city. The Toronto Cyclists Union issued a “how to use a bike box” release, but in short bike boxes provide a space at intersections for bikes to wait in front of cars at red lights.
I have seen many close calls at intersections where a cyclist resting against the curb at a red light is almost clipped by a car turning right who didn’t see them. I’m sure many drivers and cyclists have similar stories. Cyclists seem to pop out of nowhere when you’re in a car, appearing suddenly at your side just when you thought the coast was clear. For cyclists, waiting at a red light means forming a very Canadian and orderly line between the curb and cars. Bike boxes remove the need for this line — and thus the surprise element to drivers — allowing cyclists to pool up at the front of the intersection.