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NEWS: City Staff respond (badly) to protected bikelane concerns

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UPDATE: Cycle Toronto likes the below response.  They interpreted it differently than I did, and that’s okay.  However, I would like to point out that the very last paragraph of the city’s response is a damning one:

The objective is to strike the appropriate balance between separation design, education and enforcement to ensure that Simcoe, Adelaide and Richmond Streets are as safe as possible for cyclists while also accommodating other users of the road.

This is horrible.  It’s basically saying “yes, cyclist safety is important, but trucks need somewhere to stop, and taxi cabs should pick up passengers somewhere… and sure, flexi-posts can be used, but let’s also used enforcement and education.” … really?  signs saying $150 and a non-existent police presence for enforcement is supposed to change driver behaviour?

Cycle Toronto is pleased to see a renewed commitment to separation as a core component of the Richmond Adelaide cycle track pilot project from Mr. Livey and Mr. Buckley. We look forward to working with the City throughout the implementation and evaluation period. Thank you to all Cycle Toronto members that responded to our action alert and took the time and energy to write.


 

Earlier this week, Cycle Toronto spearheaded a campaign that asked concerned Torontonians to write to their city councillors (and cc city staff) to ask city staff to abide by the unanimous decision of City Council and install protected bikelanes on Richmond and Adelaide.

I sent my email off this morning and received this rather unimpressive auto-reply.  It basically says “we’re not sure if separation is needed… maybe just paint is enough to keep cars and trucks out of bikelanes… we’re testing things”.

If you have biked (or driven) in Toronto, you know this is a rather lame response.  Cars and trucks have been parking and driving in painted bikelanes for years and years… they don’t need to be tested.  They’ve been tested and have FAILED as safe infrastructure.

Full email below.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

To:  All Interested Parties

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your comments and suggestions regarding the Richmond – Adelaide Cycle Track Pilot Project.  We appreciate your concern about the level of separation provided by the first phase of installation.  Let us explain the rationale for the phased installation of the pilot project cycle tracks on Simcoe, Adelaide and Richmond Streets.

On June 10, 2014, Council adopted the Transportation Services staff report recommending cycle tracks be installed on Simcoe, Richmond and Adelaide Streets as a pilot project part of the Environmental Assessment Study to evaluate the feasibility of permanent cycle track installations.  Transportation Services’ goal was to implement these important new cycling facilities as quickly as possible, so that cyclists and drivers could adjust to the new street design during July and August when traffic volumes are lighter.  There is generally a two to three week adjustment period for drivers when major changes are introduced.

The City did not have flexi-posts in stock for all three pilot project cycle tracks when the installation began on Simcoe Street in early July.  A new two-year contract will be awarded this week for the supply and installation of flexi-posts for Adelaide, Richmond and other potential future cycle track projects.

The purpose of the pilot project is to evaluate the effectiveness of different design elements and treatments so that we can make the best recommendation possible for the design of a permanent cycling facility.  The first phase of evaluation is to evaluate the effectiveness of the new $150 fine (new signs installed to advise drivers) and increased enforcement by Toronto Police Service with the painted buffer separation only.  Two staff are walking the cycle tracks every hour to document obstructions in the cycle tracks by location, vehicle type, time of day, etc.  On Simcoe Street, the first pilot project installation, flexi-posts were installed incrementally in response to observed problem areas.  The Simcoe Street flexi-post installation will be completed this week.  The second phase of evaluation, after the flexi-post installation, will enable staff to compare and contrast obstructions with and without flexi-posts.

A similar installation phasing and evaluation is planned for Adelaide and Richmond Streets.  Flexi-posts will be installed this week in a couple blocks of Adelaide where we have observed drivers entering the cycle tracks well in advance of intersections to turn right.  The flexi-post installations on Adelaide and Richmond Street will be completed in September as part of the new installation contract.  Again the comprehensive before and after data will enable staff to properly evaluate the effectiveness of the flexi-posts and will inform recommendations for the permanent design as part of the EA Study.

It’s important to note that there is no “separation device” which can prevent all motor vehicle obstruction of the cycle tracks because there will always be gaps to provide access to laneways, driveways and bus stops.  However, Transportation Services will continue to monitor conditions and making adjustments throughout the pilot project, as necessary, to address operational issues.  The objective is to strike the appropriate balance between separation design, education and enforcement to ensure that Simcoe, Adelaide and Richmond Streets are as safe as possible for cyclists while also accommodating other users of the road.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Lukasz Pawlowski (lpawlow@toronto.ca / 416-338-6583) or Daniel Egan (degan@toronto.ca /416-392-9065).

More information on the Richmond-Adelaide Bikeway Environmental Study can be found at www.toronto.ca/cycling/richmond-adelaide.

 

 


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