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New app helps Toronto cyclists report vehicles parked in bike lanes

Toronto cyclists have a new tool in their fight over asphalt turf.

TowIt, designed by local developer Michael McArthur, lets anyone snap a photo of scofflaw drivers parked illegally in bike lanes, share it online and plot it on map using their smartphone's GPS.

Although the app is designed for all road users, McArthur said it's proven popular with local cyclists. A glimpse at the map shows numerous photos posted along cycling routes, especially on Adelaide Street, where cycle tracks were installed last year.

"I used to get all stressed and yell at drivers for it but I realized that it was not not productive and potentially dangerous so I switched to just snapping a pic of the car with the app," TowIt user and cyclist Shane Leslie wrote on Facebook.

"This way I proxy my road rage into an act that does not require me to interact with the person, and may in time result in the police utilizing the data collected to improve parking enforcement."

Warning: The video below contains strong language. 

On Friday, Leslie uploaded a video of a driver yelling at him after he used TowIt to shoot a photo of her car parked in the Wellesley Street bike lane.

The 20-second clip shows Leslie informing the woman that parking in a bike lane is a municipal offence.

"I'll f---king run you over," the woman replies.

Although McArthur hopes to one day connect TowIt to municipal towing services, he says the app is "causing some social change" just by making drivers more publicly accountable.

"We're just trying to showcase it publicly in the hopes that people see themselves and change their behaviour," he said.

As for Leslie's altercation, McArthur said he contacted him and thanked him for using the app. He also encouraged other cyclists to report similar incidents to the police.

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