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The New Roncesvalles: Ride Your Bike up onto the Curb

Bump Outs Coming to RoncesvallesBack in the spring of 2009, the renovation of Roncesvalles Ave. was just getting underway.  Plans called for many more trees and wider sidewalks, including sidewalk “bump-outs” at some streetcar stops to allow transit users to board streetcars directly from the sidewalk.

One bit of controversy was that while the street is planned to be friendly to pedestrians and cyclists… the aforementioned sidewalk bump-outs get in the way of cyclists, as they block the curb lane of this 4-lane road.

The solution decided upon was to make these bump-outs accessible to cyclists – allow bikers to ride up and over them instead of having to merge into car traffic in the middle lane of the street.

Steve Munro took a photo (below) of one of these bump-outs in a post about the streetcar track reconstruction, and it gives you an idea of what it’ll look like.

Roncesvalles gets a remake

What do you think?  Is it smart to encourage cyclists to ride up onto part of the sidewalk, where people may be waiting for the streetcar?

Overall, I think the new “Roncy” will be fantastic… the wider sidewalks, more trees and less emphasis on car traffic will make the street look much nicer but also be good for business.  The bump-outs effectively reduce the street to 2 lanes in spots… creating a street that encourages *local* car traffic and discourages *through* traffic.

  • Joey

    I think that if people get used to the concept that bikes will be using the bump-outs, I think it will be both safe and practical. I think it likely could be dangerous, but only during the first month or two, when Roncy is first opened, and again when cyclists — that haven’t cycled during the winter — start cycling again in late March and April.

  • When I was in China, I liked this idea: a bump-out bus stop, with a bike lane that goes behind the bus stop. You can see a motorcycle ahead of me riding along the bike path: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36871124@N04/5155071765/

    Pedestrians who are crossing the bike path to line up for the bus need to watch for bicycles/scooters/motorcycles, but I think that is much safer than cyclists having to veer out and watch out for buses/cars/trucks.

    Regarding Roncesvalles though, I think it would be silly to have bicyclists riding in the same patch of concrete where streetcar passengers are waiting. Hopefully they will paint something to keep the streetcar waiting area separate from the bike path, but I guess we’ll have to wait to see how this will get implemented.

  • James: that looks like a good idea for a wider street like Lakeshore West in South Etobicoke, or maybe Queen to the west of Spadina, but Roncesvalles probably doesn’t have the space.

    I don’t quite get how these bump-outs are supposed to work. Can vehicles drive on the bump-out when there is no streetcar (like a speed hump) or is it permanently blocking off the lane where the streetcar stops, except with a provision for bicycles to ride over it? If it’s the former then I don’t see the point, and if it’s the latter then you can bet there will be transit riders standing in the bike lane all the time, unless the city does a very good job on signage (fat chance). One positive is we may see fewer of our fellow cyclists flying by open streetcar doors. We have to stop too!

  • Jeff

    I can see what they were trying to do, but I don’t think it makes much sense. When a group of people is waiting for a streetcar in rush hour, they’re going to be standing on the bumpout, to get out of the pedestrian traffic going up and down the street behind them. This will definitely happen in the busy spots, think places with a veggie stand like Garden Ave where the sidewalk space is extra limited.

  • There will definitely be some pedestrian/cyclist interactions on these… and you can bet the media will make a big deal out of it.

    There *should* be few problems… most of the streetcar stops on Roncy will have wider sidewalks (even without the “bike-bumps” – the diagram at the top of this post shows this – so hopefully, streetcar users will wait between moving pedestrian traffic and the bike-bumps. :)

    If the streetcar is stopped, well… every cyclist should know that they should be stopped too.

  • anne

    The bump out has to work otherwise the only other way past for a bike is between the new curb and the streetcar track – this looks like a couple of feet at most. I recently wiped out after being blown by a gust of wind into a streetcar track at McCaul and Dundas so I’d be nervous about having to squeeze so close to the tracks.
    The bump outs also need really good signage otherwise the pedestrians waiting will likely get very irritated at what would appear to be cyclists illegally using the sidewalk. The photo of the Portland version on the web looked OK as it has a very clearly marked cycle path

  • jason primrose

    The bump-outs could work if we do what German cities like Koln do, where the bike path at sidewalk level is painted red and signs remind pedestrians to stay off the bike lane. There needs to be regular public reminders to make sure pedestrian remain aware of the need to stay off the bike path (in Koln pedestrians can be fined for walking or standing in the bike path except when a streetcar/bus is just about to stop)

  • John

    The Roncesvalles Village BIA website shows a concept image of what a bumpout could look like. The bike path portion of the bumpout is intended to scan as part of the road, not the sidewalk. The image also shows a bollard and some markings intended to distinguish the sidewalk from the bike path. In addition, the City is building open planter pits at each end of the bumpout (not shown in the image) in an attempt to minimize pedestrian/cyclist conflicts.


  • Larry

    The idea of a bike path built into the sidewalk but at a different elevation from the footpath portion is something common in cities like The Hague – pedestrians know that crossing the bike portion involves caution.

  • Dave Krentz

    This looks like a progressive move, if everyone plays their part. Marking the bike path red and having explanatory signs would be a good idea, but an education programme — how peds should keep the path clear, how bikes can’t pass open streetcars — would be a wise move by the City.

  • I’m sure it’s been pointed out many times already but I can’t help noticing how many times, on many different topics we end up back at “educating road users”. I’d even go so far as to say that much of the animosity between drivers/cyclists would be ameliorated by simple education. I suspect many folks think I take the lane b/c of either ignorance, arrogance, a “#&@% you” attitude to drivers when it really is about safety.

    I’d love to see more PSAs on television, youtube viral videos and especially education in schools and as a part of driver education. Much of what makes places good or bad for cycling has to do with the driver culture in the area and this could help a ton.

    There I go preaching to the choir again.

  • I agree Todd,

    I noticed talking with ‘the other’ has incredibly powerful effects. It seems obvious to say but as soon as you start to discuss, differences seem to melt away. I think we are hard-wired to get along – and we do it very well – when we do it.

    The problem I think is we’ve delegated so many parts of the conversation to third parties (like government institutions) and to technology (like this), that we don’t do it personally often enough. So when a crisis comes – and what should be an obvious solution, talking it out – doesn’t occur to us until it’s too late and walls of ignorance have already gone up between us.

    What ever that’s worth.

    On the bump outs, I think I’ll take the lane on Roncey, balance on the car until it moves. I’ve found the street cars average the exact same speed as the bike, I usually stop and let them get way in front; you can’t get comfortably ahead of them with out a lot of work and stress.

  • Chris

    the bump outs would be fine if they came with education.
    no one knows what to do!

    You ride up and ring your bell for people to move. Last week a police cruiser ws parked on one.
    People park too close on either side. We need signs!!! and maybe a mascot.

  • sam

    So far these bump-outs are causing confusion. It needs to be clearer that they are essentially part of the road and not an extension of the sidewalk. People tend to wander out onto the bump-out not realizing it’s a bike lane when there’s no streetcar being loaded (and look at you in an unfriendly fashion, since they think you’re riding on the sidewalk). Hopefully there will be some signage because right now it’s a bit of a free for all.

  • tdhn

    There definitely needs to be education and signage on this as the bump lanes are nearly always blocked by cars. I broke two teeth two weeks ago when I hit the streetcar tracks because somebody was blocking the lane. Problem is, when it blocked it is doubly dangerous as there is not enough clearance between curb and track to cross at the appropriate angle. I wrote councillor Perks about this and had a follow up saying signage would be going up soon I also wrote to the mayor …nothing yet from that office.

  • Chris

    Well riding on the bump outs is preferred since the alternative is riding into the main traffic. But there should be some clarification posted at the stops that these bump outs are to be shared- I was blocked and yelled at by an indignant ttc rider for using one.

  • David Greig

    I have to ride this street 4 times a day. It is a frustrating and dangerous experience. There is not enough road space to allow a cyclist to pass a parked truck at the same time as a streetcar ! If a car is parked more than 20 cms from the curb there is not enough room for a cyclist. The elevated streetcar stop/bike path invites all sorts of distracted children and adults to wonder in front a passing cyclists. This may have looked good on paper but it is very unpleasant for a cyclist.

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