Vaughan Rd. Bike Lanes: Why?

As reported by TCAT, the bike lanes on Vaughan Rd. between Winona Dr. and St. Clair Ave. (map) are being installed this week.

I rode by there after work on Tuesday evening to check on the progress. They have already painted the initial markings on the road, which will eventually be painted over.

However, the cynic in me is asking, "Why are they doing this?"

Seriously, riding this road wasn't bad at all. The traffic is minimal, the lanes are wide and easy to share, and the limited on-street parking doesn't make for many dooring situations. Maybe this is a simple 1.7km to add to the bike plan, without upsetting anyone. But does it benefit anyone either? Let's have a look.

In this first photo, we're looking south-east, with the north-west traffic coming towards us. The centre yellow line will be shifted farther to the right, giving more room to the left side of the road and making room for the bike lane. I guess overall, that's a win for cyclists as there is more room to go around, but then there's also a new set of bike lane stripes right in the door-zone of the parked cars. Now I suppose cyclists will be expected to ride in the door-zone because of the new lines on the road.

In the second image, you can see how the yellow line will be moved to the right, making the right half of the road narrower. This is a loss of space for everyone, including cyclists. Now motorists will have to pass closer to cyclists, unless they cross the solid yellow line. The bike lane markings aren't stenciled in yet for this direction, but it looks like it will be tight. Overall, it looks like a loss of space for cyclists, which I'm sure will totally disappear when there's a bit of snow

In this last photo, you can see how narrow the new lane is. I really don't think they can fit a safe bike lane in there, especially next to the parked cars.

To me, it just seems like this was an easy bit of cycling infrastructure to paint on the road, without actually seeing if there will be a positive benefit for cyclists. I'm sure some cyclists will feel safer with a little white line protecting them from cars, but I don't think this will actually help. Having less space to ride, especially around parked cars, will make things more dangerous.

I guess we'll have to see what the final outcome is once the painting is complete. Do any of you I Bike TO readers cycle along here regularly? What are your opinions on this?


We don't need bike lanes like this. In fact, we don't need bike lanes at all. What we need is cops handing out tickets for the horrible driving practices in this city, which were not the norm fifteen years ago, but now are. One thing we do not need more of, are any bike lanes beside parked cars. Granted the city will never give up the revenue stream from on-street parking, despite how unsafe it is for all road users (cars get hit by idiots in parked cars too, just the drivers don't get hurt as badly), so normalise cyclists taking an entire road lane, to which we are entitled. Normalise it by media, and by some hefty fines for reckless endangerment against drivers who are a bit thick.

Sometimes the bike lanes that go in make a HUGE difference - the bike lane going over the Dundas St. W/College bridge into Parkdale being the most salient recent example.
Many other times though, it can feel like it's just doing it for the credit of being able to point to it for a quantity X of bike lanes this year - aren't we just fabulous in Toronto the Green doing all these things for bikes!!!
Unfortunately with the chopping back of the former Cycling Committee came the elimination of a Network/Infrastructure sub-committee that provided a forum and direct feedback for mere cyclists to share concerns and discuss merits. From a political standpoint though, at times this was a batch of pesky cyclists who dared to question the quality of The Plan - and we couldn't have that because cycling is a priority, at least in those wards where the Councillors didn't mind putting in white lines on roads, that maybe weren't that bad, and these Councillors could then avoid the more challenging issues of actually getting a decent network where folks ride and alienating commercial interests and maybe spending some money. (Though for all the millions in the bike budget it's only $25,000 a km to paint a bike lane, so where's it all going?)
And perhaps my fussing about Bloor in the axed sub-committee.helped it disappear, and it's an interesting coincidence that the TCAC pruning occurred about the same time as the Bloor Transformation project emerged into its final stages. Mr. Heaps has been doing a great job of throttling any initiatives to get TCAC supporting this 1km which is in my view a key linkage to multiple destinations in the most logical spot in Southern Ontario. The reason given at one meeting in the early part of the year for avoiding a Working Group on Bloor was that it might take up too much precious staff time, though as Dan Egan's name is on the front cover of that 16-year-old report that suggested the #1 spot for east-west bike lanes in the old City was in fact wide Bloor from Spadina east to Broadview, it presumably would have been pretty easy to go to the Library and get Mr. Baldassini to make copies for folks.
Unfortunately, the half-hour of efforts by the TCACers to get this Working Group wasn't witnessed by CU's Dave Meslin as he'd done his love-love presentation and had left the room as he was sick.
I don't know this particular stretch of road well, so I won't comment so specifically but at times where we do bike lanes is most debatable, and how we do them too, and the City does NOT want to have this debate because we're "green" - as the new ads showing a bike ridden by a tree on a carterial proves to we shitizens.
The upcoming PWIC meeting on Sept 8 or so may well have more bike lanes being put in where they're only somewhat helpful, and in bike-friendly councillor's ward only, and in lieu of useful places, like the east-west core streets in the core.
And they're missing inaction about the quality of some of the bike lanes already around eg. the dangerous curve into the Viaduct, the crossover of the exit ramp to the DVP, the ponding at the top of Parliament which I've been bugging them about for some years? Also the southbound Sherbourne lane is shit, as is the northbound Bay St. lane, yet Mr. Rae is okay with spending multi-millions of civic money on the rebuilding of Bloor St. while letting rough road conditions persist. This Council has also ok'ed doing a bike lane on Wellesley though in parts near Queen's Park it's essentially becoming rubble.
May I suggest to y'all and the new Cyclists Union that there truly needs to be a harder edge to any dealings with the City, and mindless/uncritical support of bike lanes isn't helpful.
I also found recently that in Paris, there are examples of bike lanes where the door zone is very strongly and clearly marked off.
It's about the same size as the Davenport bike lane it looks like, and while the remnant of the Paris lane is narrower, it's a much clearer and safer way of going.
In Caronto the Carrupt however, the Council is willing to evade an Environmental Assessment on a major road project in the city core, essentially having a private paving party preventing public priorities - and this privatization isn't deemed too remarkable other than in the Star.

Vaughan is a great road to traverse the city and if coming from the west along Rogers to Jesmond then South on Vaughan is a reasonable route. I often use the reverse route when heading to Ronce or Parkdale.
That said I live in the neighbourhood just north of Vaughan and there are a lot of great side streets and trails that I will always choose instead of Vaughan.
I think every opportunity ot train car drivers to mind the space of bikes is good. But it would be really smart of the city to allocate resources for bike lanes where they are most needed and most likely to be used. That said I think this makes the neighbourhood better. The only improvement to Vaughan that would be better would be a raised median with trees.
Sometimes misallocated resources pave the way for more people to cycle.

Do any of you I Bike TO readers cycle along here regularly? What are your opinions on this?

Vaughan, from St. Clair to Egg, comprises part of my regular commute.

It does for precisely the reasons you've noted: wide, easy to share lanes along with relatively light traffic and on-street parking.

Why the bike lanes then? Expediency, placation and, possibly much further down the list, need. The lanes are redundant, as is the new paint on Logan Ave. between Dundas and Gerrard (hope to get some pics soon).

Cyclists intuit that these corridors double as defacto bikeways. So, practically speaking, the paint just systemizes this fact rather than reserves further road space for bicycles.

In the case of Vaughan it may exacerbate the situation: I habitually take the lane, momentarily tying up traffic behind, when curbside parkers make for tight fits; the bike lane suggests to motorists et al there's a designated space from which I should not stray.

A bikeway on a major thoroughfare such as Eglinton, Bloor or Avenue/University is worth a hundred of that on Vaughan. Echoing Hamish: it's time that quality, not just quantity, of bike lanes be a prime consideration. Perhaps we should start nibbling the hand that feeds -- Joe Mihevic's? -- because often the bone it tosses ain't worth chasing.

Bikelanes like this are very much needed everywhere possible. The Key problem with getting bikelanes in place, is finding places they are politically permitted. Many formerly wide lane streets have had the extra room used up for new left-turn car lanes. Senlac Rd.and Leslie St. (north end) are just two examples. Other formerly wide lane treets get filled up with new car parking, wider sidewalks (Bloor st.), traffic calming or even new central medians (Jarvis). If cycists don't get our bike lane space then other people grab it first and then there is no bike space left.

"Maybe this is a simple 1.7km to add to the bike plan, without upsetting anyone."

Unless it is relevant, well designed and enforced it is just a stripe on the road. People have been suckered into the promises of paint on the road and nothing else.

I am a big proponent of bike lanes. But I get a little disappointed and cynical when I read about how few kms are put in each year, and how the city bends over backwards to protect parking spots. The Annette St. Lane detour is a good example of this. If there were enough bikelanes it'd be fabulous, but I think realistically that there is no chance that the city will ever get it's act together to put in even a sizable fraction of their own stated goal.

But I loved those pictures that were posted by someone of the 'door zone' in Paris. What if sections of particularly treacherous roadways, like Bloor St W, had 'door zones' painted right on the road so that cyclists would know to stay out of this area...? This would also serve to educate drivers, so they wouldn't honk and accuse us of driving 'in the middle of the road', as I hear from time to time. It would make us safer, and remind drivers to be aware of our spatial needs.

And in theory this would not require the expensive public consulatations that bike lanes seem to. We wouldn't be asking for public space, after all, just reminding people that parking eliminates the usefulness of a bit of space alongside parked cars.

In a way, I like this better than bikelanes. And maybe the city could use a little more of their own cycling budget. After all, taking pictures of trees riding bikes only costs so muych, yes...? You'll never get through 5 million dollars a year that way.

Bad cycling frastructure is worse than no cycling infrastructure at all. This appears to be yet another example of a worse than useless door-zone bike lane on a street that doesn't need it. Typical.

I am typically pro-bikelanes... I believe that they are effective when designed properly and marked well. However, the Vaughan bikelane is a disappointment. First of all, is it finished? I mean there is only one northbound bikelane. If so, cyclists have lost space overall... for example I am now pinched against the curb going southbound. Going northbound the bikelane is next to the parked cars and cyclists are at risk of the door prize. Why wasn't the bikelane placed in the lane without the park cars?? Sharrow would have been a better choice here... this was a decent road to cycle, not so now... please tell me its not finished...

From Councillor Mihevc's site:

In Ward 21, Transportation Services is investigating the possibility of a dedicated, signed bike lane with pavement markings on the north-bound side of Vaughan Road and a wide curb lane on the south-bound side. The wide curb lane is not considered a dedicated bike lane, but it would have signs indicating it is a bike route.

While I generally prefer wide curb lanes to bike lanes, at least from the displayed photo the curb lane is not going to be very wide. As well I believe the unbalanced infrastructure will encourage wrong way cycling. I've seen it on other streets where there are bike lanes on one side of the road only, many inexperienced cyclists seem to gravitate to the bike lanes wherever those may be...

I really liked Vaughan as it was, I used it every day for commuting to a previous job. It was quieter than the main arterials without being slow like a residential street (speed humps, stop signs). Best of all it runs diagonally so its a short cut if you are heading northwest or southeast. The lanes were wide enough to be comfortable.

I also don't think this new streamlined bike lane approval process gives the public enough chance to examine the details and provide feedback on them. For instance, cyclists may want infrastructure on a particular stretch of road, but there needs to be accountability about the design process. Some streets are much better left alone.

As well I believe the unbalanced infrastructure will encourage wrong way cycling.

If you listen to drivers, wrong way cycling exists whether there is a bike lane or not. What gets blamed when there are no bike lanes?

thanks Tanya for noting that maybe the streamlined oks for bike lanes don't serve us as well as maybe looking at details.
There's a lot of pressure to be "green" and bike friendly - so that means more bike lanes and in measurable quantities with less regard to quality. So maybe the bike lanes are less needed than some might presume - too bad, they're in.
But the chopping back on the committee of citizens also may be less wise. The old Network sub-committee and equivalents was useful in having some back and forth and info flow about what was upcoming, and if there were problems, some could be noted.
It didn't always work; there were definite gender imbalances, but the new curtailed TCAC has no such beast, and a whole layer of input is gone, along with the political inconvenience of any fussing, and staff time on communicating.
But I think it's missed, though maybe staff and politicos don't.
Curiously the Pedestrian Committee still has large numbers of people on it, and there are sidewalks on virtually every street.
But we want big numbers of bike lanes, now, because we're green.

Having ridden Vaughan a half dozen times since the installation of the bike lane I want to reaffirm that the respacing of the street is counter productive.

Southbound wayfarers -- cyclists and motorists alike -- are more constrained by the loss of turf while the benefit of the bike lane to northbound cyclists is negligible if at all. (As per standard operating procedure, the lane places riders squarely in the door zone, so riding at the outer-periphery is recommended.) I'm now less comfortable riding southbound then formerly.

Overall the new scheme makes for less fluid, less efficient traffic flow and use of space.

i wonder if this blog constitutes public feedback?

i got this back from Joe M. after emailing him my concerns (expressed above by me and other)

"The bike lane is almost finished on Vaughan. I see what you means about southbound traffic competing for less space with cyclists. My feeling here is that we will need a year to see how it all works. Of course if in the end it hurts cycling I will need to have the lane removed and the street re-configured. However, we need to see how cyclists and traffic adjust to the new conditions. Sharrows are part of the southbound traffic.

I hope this helps."

Joe Mihevc

Having lived on Vaughan road all my life I never really saw a need for a bike lane to begin with. As you've mentioned, the traffic flow is not bad at all and parking is minimal and easy to avoid. The fact that it's only going one way makes it even more pointless. When they began installing the bike lane my neighbours all came to me, knowing how much of a cycling enthusiast I am, with the news. To their surprise I simply shrugged and to this day I still do. I am thoroughly disappointed that the city has decided to fill it's "quota" of bicycle lanes on Vaughan, there are other places in the city that could use it more, preferably a two-way lane.

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