Councillor Ana Bailão Proposes Reversible Centre Lane on Dupont

Here’s a letter I received from Cllr. Bailão in response a plea I sent for councillors to not accept PWIC’s motions to remove the Jarvis bike lane and to not begin removing the Dupont bike lane:

Thank you for taking the time to email me with regards to Toronto’s bikelanes and for your patience in awaiting my reply.

As our city grows, the need for cleaner, alternative methods of transportation becomes increasingly necessary for a healthy and mobile city. The predicted population increases for Toronto will put further strain on rush hour traffic use. To alleviate this we must invest in infrastructure that supports alternative ways of moving around Toronto. Bicycling reduces vehicle traffic, promotes health, is environmentally-friendly and I will continue to support bicycle infrastructure in the City of Toronto.

The proposed removal of the Jarvis Street bike lane was due to concerns that traffic, specifically travelling North in the evening, is being significantly delayed. Traffic congestion is a serious issue in the City of Toronto and poses a significant economic threat due to lost productivity.

I feel strongly that it is irresponsible for Council to remove the Jarvis Street bike lane before City staff has an opportunity to implement their solution and revaluate the situation which is why I voted to maintain the existing bike lane. I am particularly disappointed with Council’s decision to eliminate the Jarvis bike lane because it offers a safe commuting option to hundreds of cyclists every day, and without the most up-to-date information, the removal of this bike lane is premature and unjustified.

The bicycle lanes on Dupont Street were installed under the previous Councillor and I feel strongly that many concerns surrounding their installation could have been resolved with greater community consultation.

These bicycle lanes have caused significant congestion for vehicle traffic during peak commuting periods. Not only has this made it very difficult for residents living in the area to access their homes, but the idling of stationary vehicles in this congestion can offset the environmental benefits of the bicyclists using the lane.

City Staff indicated that a large amount of congestion was occurring around the Landsdowne and Dupont intersection, where the bike lane begins. On staff’s recommendation, moving the Dupont bike lane a short distance West of this intersection will allow vehicles to more easily turn at this intersection and reduce traffic backlog.

In order to alleviate the concerns of residents in the area, I have been working with City staff to develop a strategy to improve traffic flow while maintaining bicycle lanes on Dupont as it is a critical East-West cycling route. During the last meeting of the Public Works Committee, a motion was approved to have City staff examine the installation of a middle vehicle lane on Dupont Street that would alternate with rush hour to provide an extra lane of traffic during peak hours.

By working with the interests of cyclists, local residents, and City staff, these changes will go a long way to improving traffic concerns in this area. I will continue to create forums of dialogue between groups in addition to supporting the increase of cycling infrastructure in the City of Toronto.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact my office and please do not hesitate to do so in the future.

Sincerely,
Ana Bailão
City Councillor
Ward 18, Davenport

councillor_bailao@toronto.ca (416) 392-7012 www.AnaBailao.ca

I guess this motion means removing either sidewalks, the bike lanes or on-street parking to make room for an alternating lane of doom on Dupont. I’ve written the councillor asking for further information about this proposal as it appears nowhere in PWIC or City Council records online.

What Happened to the “Bike Lane” on Spadina?

Sharrow

What exactly is going on with the blacked out “bike lane” on Spadina Avenue?

Well, what may or may not actually have been intended to be a bike lane is now gone, sanded away leaving a thick black stripe in its place. According to the Toronto Cyclists Union the stripe is to soon be replaced by sharrows:

What’s Up with Spadina – where’d that lane go?

Many of you will have noticed that the ‘gutter lane’, the white stripe that ran along the edge of the curb lane all the way along Spadina Ave., was scrubbed off the roadway about two weeks ago.  Please note that this was done in order to prepare the roadway for the application of Sharrows on most of Spadina, and full bike lanes where the road widens enough to fit them in at Spadina circle.

The City has not been able to provide us with a specific application date, but we have been assured that they will be implemented before the end of the season.

What are sharrows you ask? Here’s what the City of Toronto has to say:

1. What is a shared lane pavement marking, or “sharrow”?
Sharrow is short-form for “shared lane pavement marking”. This pavement marking includes a bicycle symbol and two white chevrons.

2. What do these sharrow markings mean for cyclists?
Sharrows are used to indicate where cyclists should ride in a travel lane.

  • For safety reasons, cyclists should ride one metre from the curb to avoid debris and sewer grates.
  • In lanes that are too narrow for cyclists and motorists to travel side-by-side, cyclists should ride in the centre of the lane to discourage motorists from passing too closely.
  • Where there is on-street parking, cyclists should ride one metre from parked cars to avoid the “door zone”.

Although it is the motorist’s and/or passenger’s responsibility to look first before opening their door, riding too close to parked cars can lead to serious injuries that can be avoided.

Sharrows are also used through intersections and some merge zones to support straight-line cycling and to increase the visibility of cyclists.

3. What do these sharrow markings mean for motorists?
Sharrow markings are used to remind drivers to share the road with cyclists. Sharing the road means you should:

  • only pass a cyclist where there is enough room to to do safely (at least one metre between motorist and cyclist),
  • reduce your speed when passing a cyclist, and
  • watch for cyclists when making lane changes and turns.

Be aware that cyclists are vulnerable to different hazards than drivers (e.g. minor pot holes and debris), so give them space to manouvre. Even where there are no sharrows or bike lanes, motorists should always share the road.

4. Where can I expect to see these sharrow markings?
Sharrows are used in curb lanes, either adjacent to the curb or parked cars. You will also see sharrows painted in the middle of narrow lanes where there is not enough room for a cyclist and motorist to travel side-by-side. Sharrow markings are also used through intersections and areas where traffic merges, such as at highway on-ramps or intersections with multiple turning lanes. Sharrows are mostly found downtown where there are the greatest number of cyclists.

View the list of sharrow projects.

More answers to your sharrow questions can be found here: Sharrow Frequently Asked Questions

When a bike lane needs to be more than just paint

bike lane potholes

City cyclists know the horrors of the Sherbourne bike lane. Those opposed to the Jarvis revitalization point to this street to the east where they believe adequate cycling infrastructure is unused. It is being used, by delivery trucks as temporary parking. If any piece of cycling infrastructure in Toronto is an example of why paint does not make a bike lane, it is this stretch of torn up, crumbling and downright dangerous pavement. I’d much rather take my commuter through the advanced trails in the Don Valley than have to risk being tossed around on this stretch of road.

While city councilors and mayoral candidates may believe that bike lanes are not safe, they seem to be basing their opinions on the poor examples barely taking up space on our roads today. But, this point isn’t going unnoticed, as an article in the Natoinal Post points out:

City’s bike lanes need revamp: advocates

Alan Heisey, a Toronto lawyer and former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, has been cycling in the city for 35 years, but he is against bike lanes. That is, he says that the current bike lanes — a strip of paint at the side of the road — simply aren’t safe.

“The bike lane ends up making the street more dangerous than if it wasn’t there because it gives the impression of safety,” Mr. Heisey said. “It forces bicyclists who are in the lane legally to swerve around the cars that are parked illegally.”

The solution to this, he says, is separated bike lanes.

9th Avenue bike lane Manhattan

In Toronto, poor surface conditions and improper use by motor vehicles combine to make our existing bike lanes unsafe. While I fully encourage the creation of separated bike lanes, I’d also like to see governments addressing the selfish attitudes that result in motorists ignoring and abusing infrastructure. The Toronto Cyclists Union is pushing for this change as they propose updates to the Motorists Handbook used as a primary teaching tool for new drivers.

1st Photo of Sherbourne Bike Lane via Torontoist.com taken 3 years ago (street condition remains the same today)

2nd Photo of 9th Avenue Bike Lane in New York City via NYCBikeMaps

Bike Lanes Removed On Religious Grounds?

This is simply strange:


Hipsters, Hasidic Jews Fight Over Bike Lanes In Williamsburg

The war over Williamsburg has taken yet another turn.

In response to last week’s removal of bike lanes in the traditionally Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, a group of local bike riders took it upon themselves to repaint the lane lines running down Bedford Avenue.

The Hasids had asked the city to remove the bike lanes from the neighborhood, claiming the influx of bikers posed a “safety and religious hazard.”

In an interesting twist, the group of guerrilla line painters reportedly included members of the Hasidic community who are not opposed to the lanes.

Last year the religious group complained to the community board that many of the young, female cyclists who rode through the neighborhood were “hotties,” who “ride in shorts and skirts,” both of which are against their dress code.

According to the New York Post, “a source close to Mayor Bloomberg said removing the lanes was an effort to appease the Hasidic community just before last month’s election.”