Cycling and safe streets advocates are happy that a city committee will propose extending separated bike lanes on Bloor from the Annex all the way to High Park. And a plan to study building bike lanes along Danforth from Broadview to Dawes may also be approved by council this week.
But somehow a forgotten link in the Bloor bike corridor keeps being missed for safety upgrades: the stretch between Sherbourne and Church that was in the 2001 Bike Plan.
It’s part of the Bloor Viaduct bike lane network that are some of the most used in the city. With such a long history of being in the queue for bike safety upgrades, why does this chaotic strip keep being neglected?
Of course, City Hall is quite capable of ignoring the obvious with the current suburban domination on council cementing even slower progress on bike infrastructure. Councillors also have immense say in what goes ahead in their ward.
But part of the problem is just how piecemeal bike-lane planning has become as it usually involves removing or changing parking spaces and altering car traffic patterns.
Along Bloor, for instance, we have a hodgepodge consisting of separated bike lanes, painted lanes and sharrows in a mix of widths.
We need corridor thinking and whatever traffic relief a continuous bikeway could bring. There was a plan a decade ago to study a bikeway along the entire Bloor subway corridor.
And there’s the other problem: the focus on large projects which often end up delayed or scrapped when lower-cost measures that can be implemented literally overnight would do more to close safety gaps in the current patchwork.
Lately, for example, there has been a focus by cycling advocates on separated bike lanes, which are nice, but that means more cost and street change, which is also a recipe for a drawn-out planning process and little relief for years. We’re already missing targets set in the scaled back bike plan passed by City Council in 2016.
Meanwhile, easy measures to boost safety are easily overlooked.
Just this last month, for example, the City repainted sharrows on Royal York Road, adding a coat of green to make them more visible. The same could occur on this stretch of Bloor.
Yes, some parking on the north side would have to be removed, but it could be done quickly and easily. The road is rough and needs repaving anyway.
There are other quick fixes that could shore up danger zones for cyclists along Bloor, for instance, at the two underpasses that greet cyclists like a wall between Lansdowne and Dundas. The addition of sharrows here could let cyclists share the road with far less fear of being run over. There is a precedent for it. The city just converted an entire car lane leading into the underpass on Runnymede south of St. Clair into a bike lane.
While of course there needs to be detailed analyses done for changes to a street, it sure feels like most advocates are being overly naive – or being duped – into accepting more bold study from the city with no good faith immediate change on key danger points.