Have your say on Richmond and Adelaide today and on Harbord tomorrow

The first open house for Richmond and Adelaide cycle tracks is happening today (hurry!) at City Hall until 9pm and for Harbord (the Wellesley/Hoskin section was already approved) tomorrow at Kensington Gardens, Multi-Purpose Room 25 Brunswick Avenue from 4 to 8pm.

There's a booklet to explain all the details for Richmond and Adelaide. I first saw this informative document at the stakeholders meeting two weeks ago.

Speaking of which, the meeting was quite interesting. There were a lot of people there who were excited in some kind of separated bike lane. Even the head of the taxi union/federation had previously lived in the Netherlands and "got it" when it came to safe cycling infrastructure.

I was approached by Councillor Adam Vaughan afterwards. That's a whole blog post in itself. He was quite concerned that I had painted him in a negative light (as being indifferent, or at worst, against the separated bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide). So he wanted to set the record straight. I can't say I came away from the chat thinking that he'd drastically changed his mind, though he seems less likely to block the bike lanes in favour of his configuration. On Harbord, Councillor Vaughan was much more clear: he supports separated bike lanes there because it's got community support. Let's hope Vaughan can be convinced too that the prime concern of many is that there is a safe, protected bike route on Richmond, Adelaide, Peter and Simcoe. We want more bicycle highways.


Harbord St. separations are a waste of time, money, and civic resource compared to all the rest of the west end, and much of Toronto. The Harbord bike lanes as they now exist are OK compared with other west-east pathways and it's a shame that Cycle Toronto/city are neglecting to push the City on safety/connections in the rest of west end TO. We're not getting hurt on Harbord.
There's also some technical information about the distance between intersections that indicate the safety of what's proposed won't be good enough - there are too many short blocks to have the bike lanes safe enough according to a VeloQuebec design guideline book eg. they suggest 300M, the typical Harbord block is c. 75M.
But once again, facts don't matter.

Here's a fact Hamish:

If Harbord protected bike lanes are killed, we're not going to get anything else as "compensation". It doesn't work that way in planning or politics.

Another fact:

The protected bike lanes along Wellesley and Hoskins have already been approved up to St. George.

Why would we stop at St. George and not finish them so they continue all the way to Ossington? We've got a gap of missing bike lanes between Spadina and Bathurst? We have scientific data that protected bike lanes are safer. Harbord is one of the busiest routes for cyclists so why not make it safer for all of them?

I hardly think that's a waste of money.


The Harbord Street bike lanes as they exist now are most definitely NOT OK.

Where do I begin...

How about those parts of the bike lane that are in the door zone of adjacent parked cars. When the most dangerous place on the entire road to ride a bike is in the bike lane it is most definitely NOT OK.

Perhaps you should go out there and take a look at the cyclists on Harbord. Do a count. I will make a wager than men outnumber women by over two to one. A transportation system that features systematic discrimination is NOT OK.

Ask the students at Harbord Collegiate Institute why they do not ride their bikes to school. Answer: Because dangerous car drivers scare the @%&*!! out of them and their parents, and a painted line does nothing for safety. This is NOT OK..

Kevin Love

Hamish is representative of the prior generation of activists, who were largely vehicular cyclists.

These older cyclists see little value in separated bicycle lanes because they think they don't need them.

The vast majority of the people in this city disagree and want separated bicycle lanes before they and their families will feel safe riding bicycles on Toronto's street.

Yes, I'm an old fahrt and carmudgeon - but I also worry about the 97% of the rest of the City, and how it is needing improvement, everywhere.

Harbord exists, it's not perfect and some of that misperfection is due to the Cycle Toronto folks not pushing for a filling in of the missing four blocks of Harbord tho I was, but it ends at Ossington. Then what?

Look at the crash and harm statistics through the decades. Harbord has never had the degree of incidents that other east-west streets like Bloor, College, Dundas, Queen and King have had. We especially need a single, straight, safe route through the west-central core, and why rework Harbord when it ends at Ossington?

I've totally supported doing separated lanes on Richmond/Adelaide by the way; they are long overdue. But looking at the characteristics of those roads, they are akin to many of the other examples of separations that are pointed to elsewhere ie. there's extra width.

Please track down your own copy of Planning and Design for Pedestrians and Cyclists from Velo Quebec and look at the guidelines on pp. 80-81. There are just too many intersection/conflict points with Harbord St.s many short blocks to make it safe enough, unless many left turn constraints are imposed. If safety is a priority, are you championing something less safe, or are you sure that you have the political will to impose safety with turn restrictions on traffic-mazed communities. Good luck! and see if the next Councillor is as bike-friendly...

Why doesn't Cycle Toronto et al promote a separated bike lane on the end of Sterling where Ms. Morrison was killed? Since the sidewalk plows do the city's bridges, they surely could be used to plow a bit of separated lane where it has been proven to be tragically fatal.

Hamish, why are you using a Velo Quebec guide to infrastructure? The world class design engineering standard is the Dutch CROW standard.

Let's benchmark success!

So why not get this design, and the rest of the west end, reviewed by CROW? Or by VeloQuebec, or by Vancouver people? We do tend to have adjustments to any standards to "fit" Caronto situations ie. keep hammering that square peg!

I did go to the event/consultation, (did you Kevin?) and there are spots that are clearly NOT good enough, nor likely safe either given volumes of bike traffic.

There are too many conflict points, and too many cyclists and not enough space for waiting at turning places, and not enough space in the path on QPC for this to be pursued. Arguably the passage through from Wellesly to Hoskins is the worst part of this facility now, but how is 2.4M and a sharp turn to be shared with peds a real improvement?

I'm having a recollection that the City staff were initially proposing leaving Harbord OFF of any list for change, so what happened?

City staff have previously recommended changes to Harbord lanes.

Dan Egan publicly announced in February 2010 that city staff would advance a report to works committee recommending the closing of the gap in the Harbord bicycle lanes between Spadina and Bathurst.

Spring 2010 the report to works goes forward no mention of the Harbord gap no recommendation .. nothing.

What has happened is that ordinary people who want to ride but are too afraid are finally being heard.

Councillor Vaughan has been clear that his community supports the separated bicycle lanes on Harbord Hoskins.

Its not that complicated Hamish.

A protected bike lane on Harbord and Hoskins will be a great improvement. Let's not lose sight that most of the people who comment on my blog are part of the "passionate" and "hardcore" cyclists - we are not average. For the people who might bike occasionally on the street or only on recreational paths, Harbord is still a fast and dangerous-feeling street.

How do we get the young and old feeling comfortable and safe enough to take up cycling? These people want protection and separation from motor traffic. For a regular cyclist (a small minority of the overall population) they are more content with just painted bike lanes. I would put Hamish in the latter category. Kevin Love, on the other hand is a hardcore cyclist who is also quite aware that we need to get our infrastructure up to Dutch standards.

With a bidirectional bike path along Harbord and Hoskin we'll see all sorts of benefits (as near Prospect Park in Brooklyn):

  • Motorists speeding will decrease
  • Sidewalk cycling will drop
  • Crashes will drop for everyone
  • More cyclists of all ages will use it

Not to mention that cars and delivery trucks will no longer be able to park in the bike lane with impunity. There will be a firm barrier preventing them. A bike lane where people can park at any time is no bike lane at all.

There are lots of places in Toronto where we need separated bike lanes, but we've got to start somewhere. Trying to kill improvements on Harbord and Hoskins is never going to resurrect something else. Especially not if Councillors Vaughan and Layton have put their support behind Bloor bike lanes as well as Harbord/Hoskins.

How ironic that when I was the skunk at the Ward 20 group meeting, pushing for full bike lanes through the gap, the deal was done with Cycle Toronto being OK with the compromise that we now have on that missing four-block gap - and yet a couple of years later, I get slagged by an anonymouse commenter who may or may not ride on Harbord etc., and who can't be honest as to name.

I'm quite sure that aspects of this separation proposal are ** **not **** ** ** safe and there will be division, and a backlash from some cyclists themselves, as more than a few seemed to be hesitant and/or reserved at the meeting.

Maybe this will work out just like Jarvis: a Great Idea brought to you by the Cycle Toronto/Bike Union folks that enabled the War on the Car rhetoric because the naifs couldn't see that doubling up of facilities eg. Sherbourne, if fixed up, was almost identical location in broader city geography, and so the rhetoric and angst helped get Ford elected....

Be careful and think about what is advocated for. And for CROW, what are there standards for separated bike lanes, and widths?

Harbord is OK, not ideal, but there are far many more other places in west-end Caronto that need to be given attention and funds, and real fixes.

I guess you feel sad Hamish that people didn't listen to your proposal to put in bike lanes through the gap between Bathurst and Spadina. Now we've got a chance to fill in the gap with bike lanes and to make Harbord safer for the average cyclist, both young and old. I don't quite understand why you thought it was important a few years ago but not any more. I don't think we should accept sharrows through door zones anywhere. I also feel strongly that we have to move beyond just painted bike lanes which end up just being free parking for cars.

I myself will feel quite sad if we screw up this opportunity. If you got your way on Harbord we would still have a substandard street and we would have gotten no closer to building them anywhere else.

The separated bikes lanes being built & planned around the city are a great addition to Toronto's Bike Network.

We can debate merit and virtue to their subjective extremes, but the fact is that separated lanes deliver an immediate increase in volume, and with that comes increased safety. More bikes on the road makes for more conformed behaviour on the part of cyclists, while dramatically increasing the general level of respect that driver's afford cyclists.

Perception is reality - and separated lanes make the average cyclist feel more safe; whether they have a direct effect on safety or not, their indirect effect is undeniable.

More people cycling will also help get more facilities built down the road - Separated lanes are all good.


You may recall that I was also a member of the Ward 20 group. I went to all the meetings and do not have any remembrance of a "deal" with Cycle Toronto.

As to your question about the CROW standard, you have two options. The first is to buy the official Dutch government's English translation (unless you can read Dutch...)

It is item REC 25, "Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic." Available for a mere 89 euros at:


Or, if you are a cheapskate like me, you can use the Irish standard, which is closely based upon CROW. It is found at:


Your question about lane widths is answered on page 12.

Kevin Love

My error, for separated bike lanes, the widths and other standards begin on page 64 at:


There is some commentary on the CROW standard here:


Also note that although based upon CROW, there are significant deviations away from good practice at some points in the Irish standard, particularly at intersections. The best intersection design is described here:


Kevin Love

In the suburbs, bicycle lanes and paths are considered recreational, not a form of transportation. There, they belong in river valleys or hydro corridors, and not along roadways. Yet, the suburban roadways have the space available for put them in, but are few and far from where one wants to go.

Lots of pushback; some of it helpful - and I'll try for reasoned responses. It's too bad I can't figger out how to upload some of the images/chartings of crash stats that show Harbord as safer to ride on than most roads now, and back 30 years, and that the other roads are needing changes more than the existing lanes.

It's the sad state of the "notwork" that we have now that to me is needing this fix far more than the Harbord lane Bloor, College, Dundas, King, Queen, Liberty and a host of specific points that are dangerous - and a huge set of improvements are possible with cheap paint. Which is likely why the Fordkers do NOT want them.

They may well be playing naifs to be all keen on an admittedly more beneficial and safer form of bikeway, and they'll sacrifice a street and bend standards to do so, just to get good press/support because "they're doing things for cyclists" - tho it's like a coloured Brooks saddle on a too-small heavy mountain bike where the tires both need inflating and replacing. And another attribute of the separated proposals can be a lot of internal rancour - within cyclists and within the communities that elect imperfect, but often good to excellent councillors.

Cheap paint could do the Aug 2009 approved bike lanes on Brock Ave. and Lansdowne from Rideau to Dundas St. W., though road repairs are desperately needed in the northbound portion under the bridge. No action....

Cheap paint could do the May 2010 Council-approved bike lanes on Bay St., and Lansdowne and Spadina Crescent.

And yes, cheap paint on Bloor, just to get it done, especially the segment from Ossington to Dundas St. W., known to be dangerous for 30 years.

I definitely sensed a deal with Cycle Toronto as Yvonne rolled out the plans at that Ward 20 meeting. And I unearthed a letter to the HVRA people of March 8, 2010 with a diagram attached of painted bike lanes in that 4-block gap that would have moved us even further along.

Harbord isn't perfect now: the crossing to Wellesley needs some bi-directional for c. 350M, but it will NOT work if it is made to turn sharply at the north end to turn to a north-side bi-directional because the Fordkers insist that cars NOT be interfered with even when subways run underneath. Another problem is at the Ossington end; and the HVRA turf is still imperfect, but better.

Thanks for the references Kevin; I am cheap, and also somewhat out of time to fully explore the links now, thank you. But I also think that we're in Canada, not Europe, and traffic departments/engineers are kinda like media in that they tend to move in packs, and innovation is Real Slow. Look at how long it took for coloured paint to really arrive in Caronto? a full 10 years from the Bike Plan and one experiment that seemed to ignore surface preparation on Strachan.

You guys might find that the cyclists and others using Harbord now aren't fully committed to the ideology as proclaimed, and have different priorities.

I'll key in some Velo-Quebec text/standards separately.

From the 2010 Velo-Quebec guide p. 80-81,,,
"Bi-directional on-road bike paths are acceptable in the following situations:

  • on a street without intersections or without access on one side (eg. along a waterway or rail line, where the lack of intersections and access eliminates conflict with automobiles)
  • on one-way streets with a limited number of intersections and driveways (ideally, not more than one every 300m), and preferably a single motor traffic lane
  • on two-way streets where left-hand turns are prohibited and with a limited number of intersections and driveway entrances (ideally, not more than one every 300m)

There's a figure that shows the conflict points of four types of turns over a bi-directional path that goes over these points with the this referring to cyclists D and E and cars A B and C "even if they check for pedestrians, they will tend not to look in the direction of cyclist E."

Converting Harbord to bi-directional might be nice in theory, but because of the many short blocks and conflict zones, plus the destinations being on both sides of the street (including turns) in the UofT area, changing it over at a real cost, is a waste and unnecessary endangerment of cyclists, who yes, are using it now in greater numbers, because it kinda works and there isn't so much else. Back burner it, catch up with other situations, and do Bloor etc. etc.

In 2010 the Ward 20 Toronto Cyclists Union group, made a report and this recommendation. It's in the public record:

Cyclists travelling on Harbord Street currently face a gap between Borden Street and Spadina Avenue. Given the number of cyclists who use this route, it is important that this bike lane be connected.

Recommendation #8: Fill the gap in the Harbord Street bike lane.

It seems pretty clear that the Ward 20 group supported filling in the gap, contrary to Hamish's claim that he was the only one. Perhaps I'm missing something? At any rate, it's not really clear why that should stop us now from filling in the gap, no matter who pushed for what a few years ago.

We've got a chance now to get rid of the door zone sharrows. Sacrificing it won't bring anything else back from the dead.

So after the Bike Union was OK with the some improvement scheme with the sharrows and 24-hour parking, then a bit later, there was a Gee, let's fill in the gap.
Uh, which gap??

And on the infrastructure side, there are many many other gaps that now need filling, especially beyond the immediate core.

Like why not push for bike lanes on Ossington College to Bloor? or if that is too "roadical", then Hepbourne to Dewson, the latter being on the current bike map as a suggested bike route, the former, being in the Bike Plan as part of the west end linkages, pathetic as they are.

The cost of that little gap might be $10,000? vs. what, $500,000 for the Harbord reworking? Oh, no price tag available yet, though there are changes to concrete and lighting, two bigger ticket items....

And speaking of the dead, what about sharrows and smooth pavement all along that bit of Queen St. W. between Gladstone and Dufferin St. where Peter Cram was killed? and Mr. Carriere nearby too?

Or pushing for cheap paint costing less than the price of a funeral where Ms. Jenna Morrison was killed on Sterling, where at least the cheap paint takes aim at the bad road geometry, which the city is steadfastly ignoring due to liability ie. they don't want to change anything that might appear that the road geometry and how they painted it created that tragedy as it'd be maybe $8M in damages.


You are speculating, it's weak and grossly inappropriate.

Choices for one scheme, can mean something else languishes
Cheap paint in the right places might make a real difference eg. save lives.

Smoother pavement in right places could also make a real difference.

Where is my speculation wrong - in the cost of reworking Harbord? No cost yet possible? vs. $200 per sharrow or $25,000 per km of restriping a road....

Harbord already has a pretty good bike lane, compared with much of the rest of the west end, if not the larger city. Bi-directional lanes seem to verge on being unsafe according to Quebec standards where they've been used extensively. So why bother "fixing" Harbord with a potentially troublesome "fix"? It's not perfect, no, but it's not too bad, and drivers/cyclists are sorta used to how it works now.


It really is not about money. The sums of money that you mention are insignificant in the context of transportation spending in Toronto. For example, Toronto City Council is considering spending well over $500 million on repairs to the Gardiner Expressway.

I note that constructing a brand new two-way bike path costs about $225 thousand per km. Leading to the conclusion that the Gardiner repairs would buy two thousand km of brand new bike paths!

In reality, protected bike lanes are usually much cheaper than that. The pavement already exists and it is just a matter of putting in concrete barriers to keep cars off it.

Compare the cost of a brand new two-way bike path to the cost of a brand new two lane road for cars. That would be about 15 times more expensive! And the traffic capacity of the bike path is much higher.



Kevin Love

I agree with Kevin; if Bike Lanes were free I don't think we'd have any more of them.

In Toronto, the Sherbourne rebuild worked out to c. 1.25M a km, right? Maybe I'm wrong, it was c. $1M a km.
It serves a tiny bit of the core; and sure, when rebuilding something, then is the time for trying something new, and it's better than it was in many ways.
I'm glad some folks make reference to the cost of the Gardiner repairs; I've been doing some squawking about that including at some committee meetings, and it is a larger waste, and perhaps unnecessary if better transit appeared, like GO. And we need some user pay there too.
But Harbord has a bike lane now, imperfect in some ways yes, but it exists. We still await things from 2009 and 2010 to be done, and why is Harbord put ahead of NEW bike lane on Richmond and Adelaide? There's real potential that naifs are being played; and by the time that the cost of an imperfect "fix" gets known or nailed down, (and it is arguably less safe), it's election time, and look at that gravy, though it was imposed by Council.
Backburner Harbord changes; get Richmond/Adelaide, and the rest of the City still awaits a lot of onroad changes, including the west end eg. Bloor.

Currently the Harbord bike lanes (where they exist) are basically free parking. And where they don't exist, it looks like this, which despite how many times Hamish repeats his mantra that it's "good enough" is still just a major road where cyclists squeeze between car doors and fast moving traffic.

Harbord is ready to go, Richmond/Adeliade are not - I don't see the naivete in believing that the city will proceed with its plan for separated lanes; it has been well expressed, planned and progressed to date. However, I do find fault in the presumption that there is a scandal at the heart of all this.

There will be improvements to the overall state of cycling infrastructure in Toronto when the separated lanes are built. We only need look to New York as a working example of "build it and they will come" strategy; separated lanes aren't perfect, but the benefits far exceed the drawbacks.

So why has RIchmond/Adelaide not been pushed forward ahead of any change to an existing bike lane? New bike lane, vs. overall pretty good bike lane just upgraded a few years back, and yes, the four-block gap and some problems exist thanks to the compromise OK'ed by Cycle Toronto folks, or enough of them.

New bike lanes, in the Bike Plan, suggested for study in 2001, in a really unsafe part of town vs. a costly reworking to an unsafer novel design to TO, eat-up-staff time in pounding a square peg into rounder hole proposals likely to create big fusses if turn restrictions occur? Oh, trust this Council, this one that removes bike lanes....

Backburner changes to Harbord, focus on Richmond/Adelaide and some other things that benefit cyclists in the rest of the City.

The apparent plan to install cycle tracks on smaller roads, that have already been studied, and have bike lanes, before Richmond Adelaide makes sense to me; and I get the feeling it makes sense to most.

The plan to upgrade existing bike lanes before tackling Richmond/Adelaide makes no sense to me. I suspect it makes no sense to the people who ride south of Dundas, for whom there are no E-W bike lanes available.

Seymore, Herb, anyone: I invite you to ride with me one afternoon on my homeward trip. We'll take Richmond, and enjoy the fine experience of weaving around gridlocked SUVs, lane-splitting between tour buses (I try not to do this when they're moving), and the so-much-fun riding with a concrete jersey barrier 10 cm to your right and streetcar tracks 10 cm to your left. And you'll be exhilirated by taking the lane ahead of some impatient investment banker in an Audi, because the curb lane is closed and there are only two narrow lanes. Hell, I should pay for my ride, it's so much fun!

Another evening, I'll ride up to Wellesley/Harbord and you can show me the horrors of cars parked in the bicycle lane. I don't know if I will survive....

There are lots of people who work downtown (I'm at Queen and Victoria), and live in the new condos to the south and west. There are no good cycling routes, and no "minor streets" with or without bicycle lanes. Therefore we all deal with streets such as Richmond. We'd love to have a bicycle lane, even if sometimes taxis might park in it.

Ed, I use Richmond/Adelaide a lot. I live just a block away from Adelaide. I also use Harbord quite often. What it comes down to is that City staff had recommended an environmental assessment for Richmond and Adelaide, but not for Harbord/Wellesley. So it was a bureaucratic decision to delay Richmond and Adelaide. They did this partly because of all the construction on those streets so they thought a cycle track couldn't be installed right away (the original idea was to do a pilot).

There aren't the same impediments to doing Harbord and Wellesley. Wellesley will be started this year and Harbord next year (if plans are approved).

So we can readily close a lane for a construction project but not for a bike lane?

We need new bike lanes, and filling in various gaps etc., and road repairs vs. a less-good to dangerous set of changes to an existing bike lane. Knock this Harbord idea back till after the next election; get new stuff now.

This thread is basically a broken record so I'm going to close it.

My final thought: If we sacrifice Harbord, would anything else be built instead? No. That idea is a severe simplification of how this process works.

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