Back to micro baby-steps: new Sharrows on Harbord

New sharrows have appeared on Harbord to try to fill in the missing gaps in the bike lane. Effective? Better than nothing?

These new lines are covering the URS' bike questions. Funny how they didn't remove these symbols. Perhaps because they can't be mistaken for official road markings, unlike the "two-way sharrows" on McDonnell which have been painted over with tar.

By the way, what's the purpose of this line? To demarcate the parking or will it add a short section of bike lane? It looks like the latter since at the end you can see the sharrows moving out to the left, suggesting the cyclist will start out to the right of this line.


Everyone in Toronto was so worried about Rob Ford coming downtown and ripping out bike lanes and then out of left field comes our man Vaughn, taking some dough from Harbord Bakery to make sure there are no bike lanes on Harbord. One step backwards from the man who wants to be mayor in 2014. He just lost my vote.

There are some good things with what has been done on Harbord, eg. some extensions of the bike lanes up to intersections, and some other tweaks. But there's also some serious clunks in the design, which would take too much time/detail.
The overall experience is more negative though, and Mr. Vaughan is absolutely part of it all,
The Ward 20 CU local was run out of his office, and in terms of reclaiming its independence, the email list wasn't released by the CIty under confidentiality/privacy. There was a meeting in the spring of the 20CU group, and Yvonne had been talking with the City, and plans were shown, but it was inadequate timing, and Yvonne had also helped Mr. Vaughan get elected, and I presumed it was all a bit too friendly, as somehow, the merchants still own the road.
The Bike Plan is also flawed: why does Dupont have bike lanes after the nasty bridge without the same degree of bike travel? and not these four blocks of Harbord?
The process needs to have a cycling committee, and some more public process.
It is also inadequate to lavish resources on a smaller part of things, especially beyond Bathurst to Ossington which was ok road, and let shit pavement in bike lanes and curb areas elseewhere eg. Dewson and Lansdowne as a start, keep on giving us rough and dangerous rides.
The key has been the political will - or lack of it - and Mr. Vaughan is longer on talking about all the good things he does for cyclists, but the actual actions and evaluations are scant. And this also includes timing: why is this happening just after the election? and the end of the season? Why can't we have fresh paint occur in the spring?
Mr. Vaughan's truer colours can be seen up on Bloor in front of the Conservatory too - where we now have indented parking narrowing the sidewalk and the bike safety - and it just went in, and Vaughan must have known about it. Meanwhile he said in Sept. 2008 Gleaner "First you get the pedestrian realm right and then with the leftover space, you deal with the argument between bikes and cars" I'm not going to thin sidewalks to put cycling paths in at the expense of the needs and the health of the local community."
So we see less sidewalk and more car parking atop a subway, and less room to put cycling lanes in the #1 spot in Caronto as far back as 1992, and gee, good thing we paid out the $25 to check the terms of Reference for that EA study - somehow, gee, ALL of Bloor within Mr. Vaughan's turf was going to be left out of this study, but I will get chastised by him still for being a lump, and gee, didn't he answer all the questions on the TCAT survey soo nicely and isn't he sooo green and bike-friendly.
Sadly we've missed an opportunity to change, not that the other options were particularly inspiring. How to get leverage? - write the City Legal department warning of liability still? here and throughout the City?
Pardon length.

One problem I am finding with the sharrows (I have also experienced this on Lansdowne) is that cars are more inclined to come closer to cyclists than to cross the yellow line in the centre of the road. I experienced a situation which illustrated in the second pic above and when i tried to pass an oversized truck -I was still on the sharrow - two cars sped by too close to comfort as they didn't want to cross the center line (even though there was no cars coming in the opposite direction).

Hey west-side, that is what it's like to bicycle in Toronto or Ontario... don't worry i'm sure you'll become anesthetized to the motorist's dehumanizing behaviour.


While waiting to purchase carrot cake at Harbord Bakery (bicycles parked out front) my girlfriend overhears two of the staff talking, one asks the other, "I though Vaughan promised no bike lanes here."

Funny, that promise wasn't in any of the election literature I received from Mr. Vaughan.

There is absolutely nothing to be proud of with the new paintings along Harbord between Bathurst and Spadina. The large sharrows at Bathurst aren't going to stop angry drivers from honking at me while I wait for a light. The sharrows along the rest of the road are directly in the door zone and the parking boxes aren't wide enough for a regular sized car, let alone the SUVs a few pricey restaurants here draw nightly.

On the City of Toronto Cycling Facebook page they proudly announce the Harbord corridor has been connected. Why such low standards?

This must be the worst sharrow implementation in the city so far. College is quite well done.

I cycle daily down this stretch of Harbord, among many other parts of downtown, and I've got to say, I don't experience any of the things like "angry drivers ... honking at me while I wait for a light," or worry about "the motorist's dehumanizing behaviour." I don't know what's causing this, but maybe some introspection is in order on the part of people experiencing it if it's a frequent problem. I don't mean to be a Rob Ford-sounding dick here, but it really bothers me when I hear this problem discussed-- from both perspectives-- like one group is bad and the other is guiltless. There are a lot of idiots on both sides, and there are many more grownups who can share the road just fine.

As for sharrows, while not ideal, they at least keep drivers aware that cyclists are being encouraged to use that part of the road. Should we be satisfied with "better than nothing"? I suppose not, but no matter what the markings on the road look like, it doesn't change the fact that cycling has many inherent dangers. The city absolutely needs to go to greater lengths to protect us, but they can't wrap us in bubble wrap, and the most important safety measure we can take is using our heads. If you don't feel comfortable on a road, don't let a little white line give you enough psychological comfort to do something you can't handle. If you can't pass by a car door without freaking out, the city will probably never be able to do enough to make you feel safe on the road.

That isn't to say that we shouldn't be upset when something the city does in this regard is unsatisfactory, but personally, I think we can pick better battles.

He'd probably talk to all of the people in his neighbourhood to get people to support what was needed.

Don't bother soiling yourself with political cogs - go to the power source and plug them in.

It's not really a 'Neighbourhood of Make-believe', it just makes sense.

I am about to post more whines on the inadequacy of sharrows. So if you don't want to hear - stop reading now.

I've been feeling out the biking situation as its progressed for about 6 years on college and harbord, my daily route to and fro uoft. To be entirely honest, I've had more cripplingly close experiences, more stress and anger during my daily commute, and more general 'bike anxiety' on these two routes post sharrow. It could be my anti car mentality, but the short-lived confidence I've gained while biking in the sharrows/lanes seems to have back-fired - drivers seem to be angrier than ever, they bristle past you trying to squeeze through that '2nd lane' (although the sharrow is in the MIDDLE of the 2nd lane) so close it gives heart palpitations, and every 2 meters it seems as though a delivery van or truck is parked in the college bike lanes. Not to mention the several times I have been honked at and or yelled at for being too far into the curbside lane. Pre-bike lanes, bikes approached alongside like stealthy warriors, supremely defensive, always alert. Which has been a better experience? I can't say for sure, but biking in Toronto with or without lanes or sharrows has led me to believe that if we want to foster amateurs and old-timers alike, and truly it is a separated bikeway or nothing. Integrated traffic, bikes+cars - bike lane has been proven too dangerous and hostile for beginners. Sharrows and lanes offer zero impediment to motorists, so they will do as they please and own the road. So long as there are drivers out there who are not themselves bikers, I have no faith that drivers will learn. Separated bikeways, or move to copenhagen.

Regular bike lanes allow room for a cyclist to move to the left away from the door zone, without having to enter the traffic lane.

With sharrows, cars and cyclists are given a larger than normal lane to share. That's perfectly acceptable unless there is parking allowed on the right. Suddenly, a cyclist is trapped permanently in the door zone if the traffic is busy at that time. They must shoulder check and wait for a gap, or outright stop. Doable, but it means less room for error, and in an emergency situation... well shoulder checking isn't an option.

I'm a well experienced cyclist, and I'm trying to get used to it, but I definitely have concerns.