Take the Lane

Gallery 310, October 15th-19th, 2018

With a relative increase in people looking to move away from motor vehicles, and increasing cyclist and pedestrian fatalities at the hands of motorists, the City of Toronto (alongside Vancouver and Montreal) announced Vision Zero, a long-term plan to eliminate traffic-related deaths in the city by 2021. Vision Zero has been heavily criticized since its unveiling as being blindly ambitious while lacking any real teeth, and the criticism is hardly unjustified. From Vision Zero’s announcement in 2017 to June 2018, ninety-three cyclists and pedestrians died in traffic, a significant increase over the pre–Vision Zero years.

Taking the lane refers to a scenario where it is unsafe for a cyclist to ride on the right-hand side of a lane, such as when the cyclist encounters a double-parked car or an open car door. By riding in the middle of the lane, the cyclist can gain control of the lane of traffic and assert the space required to feel safe. Taking the lane also refers to a broader political movement among cyclists to assert their rights on the road in order to ensure their own and all cyclists’ safety.

Depicted here are members of Toronto’s cycling community alongside the adjacent infrastructure and ephemera, presented in modes both prominent and unassuming. In the face of probable injury or even death, these community members have decided to continue cycling for reasons that are recreational, practical, or ethical. By unifying as a community, they are able to support one another in the fight for safer streets. This is their response (as well as my own) to what the current geopolitical landscape looks and feels like when viewed from a bicycle.