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Keep pushing bike safety

September 16th, 2015 · No Comments

RE: Bloor “foremost a public space” (July)

As someone who’s been pushing improvement in Bloor bike safety for at least a decade now, I’m glad that the Gleaner has kept up its coverage. And while I am in total agreement that improvements to bike safety are quite overdue in the Annex, I’m less certain that the proposed trials of bike lanes are in the right place or with the right timing.

The dire need for Bloor bike lanes is west of Ossington to Lansdowne, and far less in the Annex area where we have an upgraded Harbord Street, plus Barton and Lowther, and other side streets and alleyways. We have options here, but as one goes west, the options for east-west travel dwindle to a few main roads, including Harbord at Ossington, but then what?

If we wish to have a bikeway ease transit, we need to have the large hole in the west end filled and start with Bloor, as it has no streetcar tracks that dictate lane positions. Here in the Annex, especially the narrow Bloor Annex, having a wider curb lane with a small centre median and copious sharrows might be enough for the time being, given how much of a red flag bike lanes can be.

The major issue for bike lane installation usually tends to be on-street parking, and a wider curb lane would require removal of one side of car parking and a reduction in through-car lanes to one each way, whilst still letting a bit of flexibility occur for deliveries as some of the Bloor blocks don’t have back alleyways.

Also, the feel of Harbord Street now that it’s upgraded to the higher levels of bike lane, is far less of a place, and more of a corridor, albeit for bikes. On a bike, it’s not a big deal to drop down to Harbord, and that might mean Bloor can become even more of an urban place than it already is. Nuance is difficult with City Wall, and while I agree totally that bike safety is overdue for Bloor for finally providing a single east-west route to function as a transit relief, we need a few other segments of Bloor to be changed first ahead of the Annex, so let’s try changing the paint where it’s really needed, as difficult as that seems to be. Trials should also be done on rough pavement, not fresh asphalt, so given how rough parts of Annex Bloor are right now, this needs to be done this year.

As parts of Bloor are too nasty to be safely riding on now, a repainting to adjust travel locations for bikes might actually let the road be rough for another year, while improving bike safety and allowing for good redesign with an ability to see if bike safety changes harm businesses too much. They shouldn’t: the Annex area is quite well served with off-street parking.

—Hamish Wilson

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