December 02, 2015

Twelve Days of Bicycles - A Bike Lane on Bloor Street

With the Christmas season here, it’s time to get out the eggnog and carol books! It also means the end of another exciting year for Toronto’s cycling community. So how can one pay tribute to this vibrant community while in a festive mood? When a fellow advocate (Peter) recently sent me some information on Vision Zero, it gave me an idea. With one of my favourite Christmas carols being “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, I present to you “The Twelve Days of Bicycles” and the first verse … a bike lane on Bloor Street!

Existing condition on Bloor Street
While there was a post done on Bloor back in September, this campaign has literally pedalled off to a point it deserves another update! On October 24, 125 cyclists took part in the first ever “Cycle Toronto Rides Bloor-Danforth”; a 21 kilometre loop around the city which raised over $33 000 for the Bloor Loves Bikes and Danforth Loves Bikes campaigns. Cycle Toronto secured significant endorsements from the David Suzuki Foundation and the University of Toronto Graduate Students Union, while almost 6000 people signed the Bloor pledge! The Annex Residents Association produced a video recently and Cycle Toronto placed an ad in the Annex Gleaner newspaper.

The most important update is the unveiling of design options for the pilot project from Shaw Street to Avenue Road, which was done at an open house on Wednesday, December 2. Over 200 people attended and it was difficult to find ring and post parking when I got there!

There are three different road widths in the pilot project area, which are the following:
  • Shaw Street to Bathurst Street – 12.8 metres wide
  • Bathurst Street to Spadina Avenue – 12.2 metres wide
  • Spadina Avenue to Avenue Road – 16.2 metres ride
The portion east of Spadina is wide enough to install bike lanes while maintaining on-street parking on both sides, but parking would need to be removed from at least one side west of Spadina. The designs were grouped into three options with common traits.
While Option A provided the highest safety for cyclists with separation on both sides, it was not carried forward because it completely removed parking and loading on both sides. Even though only 10% of patrons arrive in the Annex by car per a 2009 TCAT study, the issue of parking and deliveries has been a common argument against bike lanes still used to this day.
Option B placed parking by the curbs and provided two sub-options west of Spadina. One places the bike lane in the door zone (B1) and the other has a buffer to mitigate the concern of cyclists getting the dreaded “door prize” (B2). Given the width, buffers are placed between the parking and bike lanes on both sides east of Spadina. Since installing bike lanes in the door zone is unacceptable for the safety of cyclists and there is a collision risk when cars cross over the bike lane to park, Option B must be ruled out from a cycling perspective.
This leaves Option C, which places the bike lanes at the curbs and puts separation with bollards between the bike lane and parked cars; similar to what is done on Hoskin. This is a win-win solution east of Spadina, for it satisfies the cyclists’ desire for safety and addresses parking concerns for drivers and certain skeptical business owners. The Shaw to Bathurst section could be improved by reducing the traffic lane widths from 3.3 to 3.2 metres (the minimum allowed by the city) and reducing the separation area from 1.0 to 0.6 metres, which can enable 0.6 metre buffers and separation on both sides. City staff expressed concern about this idea; claiming the buffer would be too small to prevent dooring, yet the 0.6 metre buffer is the same as for the Bathurst to Spadina section. Unfortunately, this solution would not work between Bathurst and Spadina; meaning there is the risk of drivers illegally stopping in the bike lane there. Aside from illegal stopping concerns, Option C is the option which best satisfies cyclists, drivers, and business owners.

The pilot project is expected to return to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee in February or March April. (thanks Jun Nogami for the correction, whose take on Bloor can be read here) Until the pilot gets installed, we must keep our sleeves rolled up and spread the word about the campaign. Maybe throw in a protected intersection or two, which was a popular suggestion? If you missed the open house, you can provide feedback until December 17 at the City of Toronto's website.

Bike lanes on Bloor!
Rob Z (e-mail)

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