Is it Really Safe for Cyclists on the New Simcoe Street Underpass?

Safety First
As with most of my trips to new bike lanes in Toronto, I approached the new Simcoe Street underpass on a day when no one was around.

Prior to completion, an article in the National Post from October, 2008, makes no mention of cyclists or bike lanes. But really, who is thinking about cycling at the beginning of winter? The article addresses the ability of condo residents to walk to work or quickly access trains using the underpass and, as councillor Adam Vaughan stated:

“The biggest impediment to get people down to the waterfront is … the [lack of] north-south connections, especially ones that are pedestrian-friendly,” Mr. Vaughan said. “It gives that possibility of accidentally ending up at the waterfront.”

Now that construction is finished, the addition of bike lanes here provide another option aside from driving, walking or taking transit through this area.

On a Saturday just before noon I spent about 20 minutes at this underpass. In that time I counted 3 cyclists, 2 tour buses and 1 pickup truck. Of course, this underpass was built to allow the residents of condos in the area to walk faster (or drive) to work above Front street. However, the added bonus of helping people access the waterfront seems to have gone unnoticed in the first few days that this section has been open.

Heading south, the bike lane starts on the south side of Front Street and ends at Bremner Boulevard. Under the bridge the lane runs along a retaining wall and in the middle of 4 lanes for motorists there is a median.

Personally, I do not like cycling under (or over) bridges in Toronto. Heading downhill at underpasses results in drivers speeding and the transition from light to dark can often make visibility a huge issue. Bike lanes here do address that problem and help position motorists prior to going under the bridge, but is it enough?

Do you feel safe under here?
The retaining wall here makes me worry. Why protect pedestrians and the support beams and not cyclists? Why not place the retaining wall so that it separates cyclists and pedestrians from motorists? In the mornings motorists traveling along here may be familiar with the area. But, with the Air Canada Centre, Harbourfront and the Rogers Centre attracting motorists unfamiliar with the area, the potential for collisions between motorists and cyclists certainly must increase.

The bike lanes on the Simcoe Street underpass are a start, but will they ever continue and create a safe passage from the condos and waterfront to downtown?

This lane ends. Proceed with caution.

I’d like to hear from commuters in the area? Is this bike lane a safe addition?

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