Why we need Wellesley-Hoskin separated bike lane and it needs political support
“Eventually you have to make some investments in cycling infrastructure and you can’t wait until there’s so many people demanding cycling. You have to take a lead in it and that way you’ll induce more people to cycle when they think it’s safer.”
-- Brandin O'Connor, Osgoode student, at the Wellesley-Hoskin first open house
The second public meeting for the Wellesley-Hoskin cycle track / separated bike lane project is coming up on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 from 4:30 to 7:30 PM, at Seeley Hall, Trinity College, 6 Hoskin Avenue. It's just west of Queens Park circle (apropos since it's one of the difficult and confusing areas to navigate).
Much of the criticism on Wellesley falls into the nitpicky category; we can easily lose track of the bigger picture. There are a number of good reasons why Wellesley-Hoskin is our best, realistic option for separated bike lanes. Let's debate the whole package. I do hope our councillors "take a lead" in building better bicycle infrastructure instead of their myopic "my ward is doing its own thing" view. Roads were never approved or debated on a ward-by-ward basis, it's not clear why, other than historical accident, that we do it with bike lanes.
Why Wellesley is the best choice for separated bike lanes:
- There are no alternatives. Bloor is politically unattainable for the foreseeable and would only be possible then in short sections with pro-cycling councillors and retail owners. Mayor Miller only gave us a study of Bloor, nothing more. Councillor Wong-Tam for all her opposition, has suggested no alternative route.
- It is linked to quite a few bike lanes. It helps improve the network.
- It's long. From Parliament to Ossington if we get our way.
- Queen's Park intersections are barriers. The intersection is dangerous on the west side of the park. Going eastbound from Wellesley to Hoskin is confusing. In fact there is no obvious route other than through the park where bikes are not technically allowed.
- Wellesley-Hoskin is what's on the table. Even if there was a better option, if we don't approve this, there will be no other proposals for some time.
- It will fill in the Harbord gap This plan will help us complete the route. Staff promised to fill it in 2010 but didn't deliver.
- There is limited retail and limited parking. Makes it much easier to remove remaining.
- There are no streetcar tracks. All the other long east-west streets around there, other than Bloor have streetcars and have little room for bike lane as is.
- Goes through the university. Lots of students cycle.
- Removing left turn lanes makes the street safer for everyone. If they remove left turn lanes to install the cycle tracks, the street will be safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and even drivers.
- Removes the dangerous door zone. By removing parked cars we'll have fewer injuries and deaths from drivers opening car doors into cyclists paths.
- Cycle Toronto is fully behind it. Cyclists need to squeeze benefits regardless of the politician. It's not like the progressive politicians got us a whole lot. We hear pro-cycling talk from downtown politicians but little action.
- The Bike Plan is dead. The Bike Plan was a political document and it expired last year. We need to do what is politically feasible.
- Cycle tracks are popular. They encourage many more people to cycle more regularly.
- Cycle tracks are safer. Studies in Vancouver, Montreal and New York are showing that cycle tracks are safer.
- The bike lane widths can increase. Most will become much wider than our typical painted bike lanes, with no interference from car doors.
Wellesley, unfortunately, may end up being one of the easier. But getting it means getting cycle tracks on streets like Bloor Street much more likely.
So let's build it already. (But first go to the September open house).