Cyclists lose John, but will we be getting a consolation prize with Beverley, Peter, Simcoe?

At the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting yesterday, the John Street Corridor Improvements Environmental Assessment Study was approved despite the number of people in the cycling community who voiced their displeasure of being ignored. It was a plan that was pushed by commercial interests along John, as well as by Councillor Vaughan, but provided very little for cyclists who comprise up to 1/3 of the traffic along the street.

But surprisingly, there may be a consolation prize for cyclists. A reputable source at the PWIC meeting heard Councillors Minnan-Wong describe how Councillor Vaughan was willing to support separated bike lanes on Beverley, Peter, and Simcoe (and presumably Richmond or Adelaide to connect these streets) if he the John Street report was approved. Since a John Street without bike facilities was approved, I presume that Vaughan is now committed to improving this alternative route, and that Minnan-Wong wanted to make sure this commitment was recorded in the public record.

This is quite a change from a year ago when Councillor Vaughan was sent out a newsletter to his constituents using the nonsense term "barricaded bike lanes" despite the fact that having some separation from motor traffic is exactly what most Torontonians have requested (as in the recent survey by the City). A positive shift away from this view can be seen in his comment about the plan for the Sherbourne separate bike lanes where Vaughan criticized that there is "not a pronounced enough separation.... Unless you make it physically risky to put a car in that spot, you will get cars in that spot. You'll have taxis, you'll have couriers, you'll have vendors."

It's quite commendable that Councllor Vaughan is willing to support this popular separated bike lane network. Despite not getting a better John Street as the most rational link, we can at least count on Vaughan to support the hard work that will be required to make the Beverley - Peter - Simcoe route possible. For instance, there is a major problem with the off-set intersection at Peter and Queen that will be need to be fixed before it can be called truly safe for most cyclists.

It was reported as well that Councillor Minnan-Wong was still championing an expanded network at the meeting (likely seeing that he can still win some political points across the spectrum with his give and take), including extending the Richmond Adelaide bicycle lanes to Eastern Avenue where there are also bike lanes. This would be a great extension to the current EA which is only going to cover a portion of Richmond and Adelaide and ignores the need for connectivity to the other side of the Don.

Comments

I know this is probably an unpopular opinion, but I think the point of the John Street redesign is to make it kind of woonerf-y. As such, putting in a bike lane - forgetting about whether or not there is room or not - ends up funnelling everyone into their place and sort of defeats the purpose of how they are trying to design the street. And I don't think that cyclists using the "flexible boulevard" is that big of a deal, even if it isn't the original point of the boulevard. The only real downside is that everyone will just have to bike slowly and cautiously to avoid collisions, and if this is coupled with a few north-south corridors for quick travel, it's a pretty minor sacrifice to make to get a really nice pedestrian realm there.

As such, I really like the idea of converting Peter, and I think it could be done well if the change the lights at the Queen-Peter intersection so that the stop line for westbound traffic is on the east side of Soho, and there is a priority cyclist light that allows for bikes to cross the streetcar tracks diagonally without impediment to continue north along Soho/south along Peter. Phoebe can then be used to hook up to Beverly. It's probably better than the John Street alternative, anyway, as you can get down to the lake that way, too.

Honestly, I'll believe it when I see it.

The city has a long history of promising bike lanes, only to renege on them. Spadina Ave comes to mind off the top of my head, as does University Ave.

Heck! Even Jarvis Street has been reneged! And then there's the ones in Scarborough, the ones on Lakeshore Blvd W...

Further, Councillor Vaughan also said to me at the meeting that the BIA won't stand in the way of getting these bike lanes if it gets John Street, but that does not stop it's members from advocating against them! In fact now that they have done to John Street exactly what they wanted to do, there is absolutely nothing stopping them from going full force against these proposed bike lanes.

But my own disbelief won't stop me from wanting them, nor will it stop me from advocating for them!

I agree with anthony on needing to see the new north south routes to believe them, but remain vaguely optimistic since I fully expect the reduction in lanes on John (coupled with the fact that the number of closures between Queen and Richmond is bound to increase) will reduce use of John by motorists (though it'll probably also become all but useless to cyclists during rush hour--kinda narrow to filter quickly/easily).

Also my expectation in an increased number of closures definitely has me wanting to rely less upon the route down John (hell, I always get burned by a closure and miss a ferry at least once every summer as it is), so I'd really like lanes right up and down Simcoe (there's hardly any competing use on that street as it is) with a proper connection to Beverley.

(The Soho/Peter side of things doesn't interest me as much, but that connection could probably be made safe with lights set up like at Lansdowne/Jameson, and as a bonus the latter connection/jog is 50m, while Soho/Peter is only 20m--politically though, I see MEC supporting it, and that's about it)

A core councillor has a tremendous amount of pressure, and it is difficult to be atop all of these issues, let alone setting a course that will please most.

But that said, Mr. Vaughan is being more on the duplicitous side methinks, and cycling safety is being shunted aside once again, there being some clear precedents on Bloor both with the gap between what is said and what is approved, and what is said, and what is done.

And I would doubt that he'd really be changing his mind too much on the separated bike lane concept on Beverly/St. George, and despite a lot of blockages, I'm tending to support the idea that it's not a useful change given everything at this time, especially if it alienates neighbours, and maybe the BU wishes to be careful about what they wish/advocate for, once again.

In returning to John St., of particular note is something within the pile of paper comments and emails, an email from Vaughan to the PWIC with some cc'ing to McConnell and the Bike Union. It begins "Thanks for the note Josh" either Matlow or Colle, it's unclear from how PW12.3.95 is printed which Josh, and I don't think this is online though it's part of the record, and there are some most curious things being said there, that almost verge on misinforming the PWIC.
eg " a full two-way bike plan has been approved for Simcoe from the waterfront to Queen (with an option to continue north to Elm
- a two-way bike lane for Peter St.....has also been approved.

What is meant by "approved"?

It's in the Bike Plan?

That's not actually an approval in reality.

He approves of them?

Well, that's a great place to start, in this mywardopic world where Councillors govern what can and can't be done for bikes and the public realm, and heck, maybe we should do taxes and building codes and casinos and other things like that too.

Is it Council approval?

I imagine we might have heard about this, though I don't follow everything that's done there, but the trend has been to REMOVE bike lanes, and just because something is approved, eg Bay St. and Lansdowne and a few other things, doesn't mean there's an actual bike lane.

While there's a LOT going on down at City Hall, Mr. Vaughan deserves to be called to clarify what he means by these remarks, and especially by constituents. Also, Gord Perks needs to be given some pressure, as both he and Adam were again looking like cats with salmon when they were at the PWIC talking about things. I'd also like to know if Mr. Layton's absence from this PWIC meeting was due to a conflict with another meeting due to rescheduling of the PWIC, or if he was ducking out of a hot potato.

Newbies should be aware that the "progressives" can be inconsistent and sell out cyclists, and emailing is great up to a point, but the alleged advocates also need to show up to be in the faces and minds if not the media on these issues. There were three of us there; and it did help, and yes, Mr. Minnan-Wong did enquire about connectivity which is wonderful, only to blow his cred today with the news of him being part of the five that are looking to sack Mr. Webster of the TTC on Tuesday.

Those who've been praising the Fords and playing with them should be aware of the Neimoller quote about "first they came for the ..... and I didn't speak up because I wasn't one of them... It'd be really useful for anyone reading this within Mr. Minnan-Wong's ward to give him some local pressure on this possible firing attempt, which with the c. $450,000 severance cost - hey, that'd almost be enough to have funded the Bloor/Danforth bikeway EA that the Fordkers killed last summer.