Vaughan hasn't made up his mind yet on bike lanes for Richmond and Adelaide, even after 12 years in the Bike Plan

Councillor Adam Vaughan told the press yesterday, in regards to the news that the Environmental Assessment on Richmond and Adelaide bike lanes will be starting, that he is willing to consider bike lanes but that "he hasn’t made up his mind. The entertainment district needs to be considered as a destination, not just a series of thoroughfares". (Thanks to Tino for photo of Sherbourne.)

Vaughan hasn't made up his mind yet? Bike lanes are "thoroughfares"?! Bike lanes for Richmond and Adelaide have been in the City's Bike Plan for 12 years (some say it came up even earlier). Let's take a look back over the last 12 years.

2001 Bike lanes are proposed for Richmond and Adelaide in the Bike Plan (appendix, map).

2001 Bike Plan makes a promise that "All Toronto residents will be within a five minute bicycle ride to the bikeway network." The Bike Plan plans a grid of bike routes throughout the entire city. Even then there are gaps, even downtown. Progress is slow right from the start.

2001-present A smattering of bike lanes are built (and some stopped and some removed), most of them in the suburbs where roads are wider and don't require taking out car lanes.

2009 Councillor Kyle Rae declares Bloor at Yorkville a "destination" and didn't think bike lanes were "appropriate" (in his speech supporting bike lanes on Jarvis). The sidewalks are expanded and no bike lanes planned nor installed, despite protest from cycling advocates.

2009 A Ward 20 Cycling Committee is formed with the help of Councillor Vaughan's office. Many of the committee members eventually leave because of Vaughan's reportedly heavy-handed involvement but not before producing a report (see below).

2010 The City's Cycling Unit holds packed public meeting on the Bike Plan of over 200 people in February in Metro Hall. Dan Egan, manager of the Cycling Unit, outlines their priorities for the downtown bikeway network for 2010-2011. He mentions staff will advance Richmond and Adelaide bike lanes in their spring report to Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. The March report mentions nothing about bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide. It's not clear why not? As a Miller-controlled committee, PWIC could have pushed for bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide. It often happens that staff won't propose something if they know a local councillor is opposed.

2010 The Ward 20 Cycling Committee goes "rogue" and produces a report requesting protected bike lanes on Harbord, University and Richmond/Adelaide.

2010 Rob Ford wins election that fall.

2010 Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong proposes cycle tracks for downtown, including Richmond/Adelaide.

2011 Vaughan sends letter to residents condemning "barricaded" bike lanes and accusing the Bike Union of not working with the local "community". Through a Vaughan initiated process the community didn't identify any east-west street through the city's core. It's not clear how Vaughan defines "community" but presumably it doesn't include people who commute to work in the area or who have to travel through the ward.

2011 Vaughan won't consider bike lanes on the well-used bike corridor, John Street, because he says it is meant to be a destination and not a transportation corridor (much as he's saying now about Richmond and Adelaide). Vaughan doesn't advance request to make alternative route on Peter/Soho safer crossing at Queen St.

2012 City Council approves an Environmental Assessment for Richmond and Adelaide.

2012 At the Harbord Village Residents Association meeting on bike lanes, Vaughan says to the group "Now when we build bike lanes they must be separated. Painted lanes are good but they aren't safe enough. My son needs something safer than just painted bike lanes." And he also says "People in this neighbourhood [Harbord] cycle but they can't do it safely. We don't accept such unsafe conditions for drivers, nor for pedestrians, but we accept it for cyclists. We need to change that."

2013 Richmond and Adelaide EA begins.

If Vaughan sees the big benefit of cycle tracks for the safety of cyclists, why hasn't he yet supported cycle tracks on Richmond and Adelaide? They were in the plan since 2001 and Vaughan was a major powerbroker when Miller was mayor. Richmond and Adelaide weren't brought to PWIC during that whole time.

And if Vaughan thinks Richmond and Adelaide aren't appropriate for bike lanes, then where? Richmond and Adelaide are nicely situated between two cycling corridors, King and Queen, but don't have the major drawback of streetcar tracks. The staff creating the Bike Plan were unable to find any other streets south of College that were useful for bike lanes.

Toronto seems to have a quite particular opposition to bike lanes by some progressives. The codeword is "destination", and it's been applied to a major arterial such as Bloor and now Richmond and Adelaide as a reason for not installing bike lanes. It's as if somehow the arterial road will cease to being a major street and turn into a residential street.

Vaughan says he supports cycle tracks. When will Vaughan make up his mind about Richmond and Adelaide?


I would like Vaughan to explain himself on this one. I can accept that he wants to make John St a 'destination' with a 'cultural corridor', but after all his efforts to crack down on the excesses of the entertainment district, now he wants to make that area a destination too? What's wrong with Richmond and Adelaide actually being thoroughfares - roads whose primary purpose is to move vehicles of all types? It's not as if either street is lined with retail and business magnets inducing traffic to stop, or a large amount of residential buildings. Richmond and Adelaide could actually be (and are) thoroughfares people use to get to and from the entertainment district (which is not even the only element making up the neighbourhood).

Adam Vaughan kind of sucks.

Right, i must say i suspect as much.

I think Vaughn must quit lackeyism and to develop a mind to make up. Personally I've always looked at his work done there at the city as an extension of his talking puppet days as a TV news reporter only with a little more awkwardness since the TV news desk can't whisper in his ear piece what to think. Maybe i'm the only one, but I can't resist a chuckle when Adam Vaughn is on TV representing the city, pretending to be professional(his greatest role yet!), as if city council wasn't a farcical enough gathering, now we have low rate actors turning it into their local theater.

Mind you I am just a skeptic, but that is what it seems to be about. Enjoy the show, maybe one day the populist opinion will swing our way and Vaughn will really jump on our wagon!

Brilliant title!

Those streets need lanes, and I am not even a big fan of bike lanes (as opposed to lower speed limits, and far more enforcement against speeding, reckless driving and illegal parking). They are the best way across downtown, and whether for cyclists or drivers, their utility is too important to sacrifice the space to parking. Not to mention that being so wide the driver's mind thinks they can drive at highway speeds. Cyclists do need to be separated here, even if the cops did their job on the drivers (as if...).

Councillors will not lead you, they need to be told what to do, which makes Vaughan's medling in the Ward Group process suspect to say the least.

If a group of constiuents (perceived or otherwise) doesn't want a bike lane, there needs to be a greater number of constituents demanding it from the Councillor(s).

Lower your expectations with regards to city politicians; they don't think much beyond what will save their ass come election time, but if you want an agent for change, all you need to do is coerce them.

In many important ways, Mr. Vaughan is a quick, principled, able enough Councillor trying to cope with an intensive agenda that most of us would wither under. But absolutely, he's weaker on bikes, and like Richmond/Adelaide it goes beyond the immediate, both in time and politics.

R/A was in that 1992 study of where to put bike lanes in older Toronto, though Bloor was #1 for the east-west. The 2001 Bike Plan mentioned doing a study for R/A and separations. Then in c. 2008, maybe 2009, there was a PWIC commitment to get going on this study - et voila - it's now underway to eat up another year or more, and then it's election year, and and and....

In the meanwhile though, sadly Mr. Vaughan and staff have been OK with eliminating options in a very critical block or Richmond, done with the addition of a sidewalk on western Richmond St. at the 401 arts building where a lane of Richmond car travel was taken out for both sidewalks and a batch of trees, in the shade on the north side of a carterial. An area resident and biketype said that at a public meeting people asked about bike lanes in this block and staff apparently said nope, wasn't an idea, or otherwise pooh-poohed bike lanes.

Yes, in most of Richmond etc. separations would be nice, but there are variations in most of our routes/roads in the older core, and car travel is quite heavy towards Spadina and the G/L excessways to the west, and we haven't made better transit yet either. So if we'd had half of the removed lane go to a needed sidewalk and the other half to a needed bike lane, we could have had an easier time of pushing through a facility vs. pushing to get 3 lanes to 2 lanes.

But those at the Bike Union must also take some "credit". Why wasn't getting a new - NEW - route on Richmond/Adelaide THE priority of the CU vs. say Jarvis, or separated lanes on the Sherbourne rebuild, or the Wellesley rebuild, both of which have bike lanes. Did the Jarvis push result in Ford being able to fan the flames and get himself elected? The Fordkers also were quite happy to stir about the core and make fires for elected whilst playing the bike lobby and dangling a bit of change to mask the overall removal of bike lanes and the varied attacks/hate-ons for bikes, except for off-road things in the suburbs and ravines, where we belong of course.

It's likely Ms. Sadik-Kahn would have had something designed and done in the time it took for our City to have the RFP bid process; though - like Bloor - I can accept a need for some study.

Meanwhile - great biking weather today eh?

Destinations have less to do with how one is getting there and more to do with what's there attracting people in the first place. Separated bike lanes are a safety measure and a way to get many more people out on bikes. If the concern is that bike lanes on R&A will turn the area into a thoroughfare then just make sure to put lots of bike parking along the routes and people will stop and stick around. The councillor's position on this issue makes no sense to me and the lack of safe bike lanes on R&A continues to endanger cyclists' lives.

For many people, Richmond and Adelaide is a thoroughfare both for motorists and cyclists. It is a fast east west route.

Part of what Rob said is true. Putting lots of bike parking in will make some of the riders stick arouund, shop etc. I am all for more bike parking in this city.

For many cyclists, myself included, we are commuting. I am riding a bike to get to work and go home, the same as my colleagues driving a car. I have no interest in sticking around.

We see this all the time in the city. Are we designing this for recreational riders or commuters? I feel their needs are different.

Because of my use I have no problem with R&A being a thoroughfare. Toronto has a traffic problem, most of which centers around commuting. Proper commuting infrastructure for cyclists is part of the solution.

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