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Users ‘re-purposing’ Jones Avenue Bike Lanes – Two way bike lanes?!!

Apr 20, 2010 @ 16:50

Jones Avenue Bike Lane is my vote in Biking Toronto’s “What is Toronto’s Best Bike Lane?” contest.

Jones Avenue has a really nice bike lane in that Jones isn’t a really busy street and the topography is good for where it goes (Queen Street East to Danforth) – it’s a good way up the hill.

Cyclists who use the lanes are local people running errands, visiting friends. It’s a short route so there’s not a lot of commuter traffic as far as I can tell (I live on Jones and have a great view out my front window).

One peculiar thing I have noticed is that people often ride the bike lane on the wrong side of the street.  Say they’re heading  north on Jones with the intention of turning west onto Dundas (which also has a bike lane) – instead of waiting in the left turn lane at Dundas, or walking the bike through the intersection via the cross walks, or taking a right at Dundas and executing a safe U-turn on Dundas – they simply ride up the west side bike lane (against the legal flow of traffic) and then turn left into the south side Dundas bike lane (again against the legal flow of traffic) and merge over to the correct side of the street when it’s safe.

Google Street View, Jones Ave and Dundas looking north up Jones. Cyclist is south bound in the north bound bike lane

I got lucky. After I wrote this article I went looking for a nice image. This is Jones Avenue at Dundas Street East, northeast corner - Google Street View - note the cyclist is south bound in the north bound bike lane!

I’m a big supporter of redesigning infrastructure to make it fit the way people use it instead of forcing people into a box that came off an architect’s drafting table. I believe a modern architect should tour their completed projects to see how they work in the real world, and learn from it. I think City Planners should watch how infrastructure is used and redesign elements that aren’t working, to make them work better with the way people end up using them.

A good example is pathways in city parks, I’ve seen several examples where parks department workers have observed where people wear paths through the grass and then instead of putting up fences to keep people off the grass, they add paths where paths are being created anyway.

It’s brilliant, it’s thinking outside the box. I wonder if the city parks and recreation department has institutionalized this thinking  – or if  supervisors of maintenance at a individual park just see and do (I expect it’s the latter – feed back is welcome, do you work for Parks and Rec.?).

Anyway, what do you think of cyclists ‘re-purposing’ bike lanes – so they’re two way, both sides of the street?

Dangerous? Brilliant? Should they be ticketed? Thrown in jail? Forced to sweep bike lanes of glass all summer?

Perhaps the way bike lanes are used in particular neighbourhoods should determine what rules apply to them – perhaps a yellow marking system to designate that a two way use protocol is in effect?

Michael Holloway

Posted: April 20th, 2010
Filed under: Uncategorized
Tags: , | 9 Comments »

9 Comments on “Users ‘re-purposing’ Jones Avenue Bike Lanes – Two way bike lanes?!!”

  1. 1 duncan said at 2:24 pm on April 21st, 2010:

    I actually find myself doing something similar. I’ll ride towards my destination going with the legal flow of traffic in the bike lane, but, if my destination is on the opposite side of the road I won’t do a u-turn, I’ll cross when it’s clear and “salmon” for a few metres in the opposite bike lane. Of course, I define clear as being free of oncoming cars and bikes. I’m not going to play chicken just to save me a few extra seconds.

  2. 2 michael holloway said at 3:36 pm on April 21st, 2010:

    I like your attitude on this Duncan, ithat’s a safe way to get around a corner – if, if, and if.

    ‘Cheating’ requires absolute professionalism, and well, just plain good manners, politeness.

    If a bike is coming in the legal direction you *must* pull to the curb and stop, letting them pass you with-out the slightest doubt that you’re going to stay out of the way. Their life is one the line. Any other protocol and you’re forcing the person who is following the rules to:

    1) check over their shoulder,
    2) make a lane change to pass around you, or,
    3) if a car *is* coming, and they can’t change lanes – actually stop which cyclists HATE to do.

    I think it is really rude to do otherwise.

    Not to mention, all this is completely illegal. :)

  3. 3 Lizz said at 3:01 pm on April 22nd, 2010:

    Sorry boys, I can’t agree.

    This happens to me often when I am riding north on St. George. For one thing, I find it surprising, and it would be dangerous if I weren’t paying attention or was busy navigating my way past traffic.

    But mostly I think it is a problem because driver’s aren’t expecting to see cyclists coming the wrong direction. Like riding on the sidewalk, it means cyclists are more likely to get hit, or potentially cause an accident.

    I know there are times when it is ok to bend rules, but if we want cyclists to be given respect on the road, we can’t be vehicles only when we feel like it. It is unfair to cyclists who obey the rules, and to drivers.

  4. 4 michael holloway said at 3:47 pm on April 22nd, 2010:

    I don’t know whether to keep stirring the pot or come clean…

    Oh what the h*ll,

    What are you crazy??! Those fascist car drivers can go jump in a lake, and all those goody two shoes cyclists should just stay home if they’re scared!



  5. 5 Joe T. said at 4:11 pm on April 22nd, 2010:

    Agree with Lizz. It’s bad form to ride the wrong-way in bikelanes. If we are going to ask for cycling infrastructure, we should all learn how to use it properly.

    It’s like the riding through red light issue – traffic lights are there for traffic control and safety of all road users… ignoring them (or only ignoring them at our convenience) is akin to saying “we don’t need them”.

  6. 6 michael holloway said at 4:42 pm on April 22nd, 2010:

    Joe said,
    ..akin to saying “we don’t need them”.

    What are rules really?

    The existentialist would say they’re just a think set, a perception of a danger, realized collectively in poles, blinking lights and Status Quo octagons.

    Who does *need* these things after all? Perhaps it is not rules we need, but to find a better part of ourselves with-in. That inner conscientious driver in all of us?

    I ask you.

  7. 7 Weekly Wrap-Up: BikeSharing, University Avenue Bikelanes and More! | Biking Toronto said at 7:39 am on April 23rd, 2010:

    [...] Users ‘re-purposing’ Jones Avenue Bike Lanes – Two way bike lanes?!! [...]

  8. 8 Debbie said at 6:43 am on April 24th, 2010:

    My prediction:
    As TO grows in population and driving becomes more of a costly hassle, over the years, we will see increasing numbers of casual and serious cyclists on the roads – the streets will be repurposed for increased space allocated to dedicated, protected bike paths that ARE two way.
    It can’t be stopped.

  9. 9 michael holloway said at 11:33 am on April 24th, 2010:

    I like your vision Debbie.

    While I’m cycling I envision stuff like ‘bike through-way routes’ where small changes are made to signage that favor bicycle and pedestrian traffic:

    a) Lower speed limits on the bike through-ways.
    b) Yield signs at cross streets (with stop signs going the other way that say “yield to bicycle traffic – Bike through-way route”.
    c) Speed bumps removed or ‘valley-ed’ so bicycles can zip through between the bumps.
    d) The white dotted lines on bike through-way streets painted green to remind motorists they are on a bicycle through-way.

    Simple stuff that doesn’t cost a lot, we can do right now, and adds value to the neighborhood (quiet, safe). This done cyclists would flock to these off arterial routes and free up space for the mad rush routes – road use peace in our time.


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