Like Wychwood, let's make it safer to cross streetcar tracks on busy cycle routes like Queen and John or Peter

This week a man died when his wheel got caught in some unused streetcar tracks on a residential street near the Wychwood Barns, just south of St. Clair. There has been some public outcry to remove these streetcar tracks to make the street safer. In fact, Councillors Layton and Mihevc are going to propose that the City remove the streetcar tracks on Wychwood Ave.

That will make it safer on Wychwood. What if our councillors put their attention and energy also on making the separated bike lane network crossing at Queen and Soho/Peter safer? If we are going to start building out a network of separated lanes we also need to think of how they will cross streetcar tracks.

Many cyclists use Beverley and John Street to get to and from downtown and they cross Queen at right angles. However, the needs of cyclists were largely ignored on John Street with the John Street EA, and we were told that cyclists would instead use Peter and Soho to cross Queen. The problem is is that the City hasn't made any plans to improve it yet. The average cyclist can't easily negotiate two quick turns across streetcar tracks especially in a mix of car traffic.

Cycle Toronto is still trying to ensure that John Street has adequate cycling infrastructure for cyclists. If that is just not possible, then it would be next best that politicians ensure that Peter and Soho are aligned so that cyclists can cross the streetcar tracks at safe right angles.

Aligning seems increasingly unlikely since the corner parking lot will soon be developed; it requires Councillor Vaughan and City Council to intervene by putting a hold on development. We don't know if Vaughan would support this. We are running out of safe options.

Councillors Perks and Layton voted on the Public Works committee to accept the John Street EA which would largely end it as a cycling route. If they are concerned with improving the safety of cyclists on streetcar tracks, I believe they could also take a much stronger stance on asking that the separated bike lane network has safe crossings. Let's use the opportunity of this media focus on streetcar tracks.

Comments

I'm sick and tired of people saying that cyclists were ignored in the John Street design. The entire premise of a complete street is to accommodate EVERYONE. Cyclists will be free to take the car lane and cars will be much more inclined to allow it. Traffic will be slowed to bike speed, and it will be a much safer street to navigate.

Adding bike lanes would sever the entire concept and make pedestrians feel enclosed on the small sidewalks that exist today. This concept is so successful across Europe, by not prioritizing one mode of transport, and inviting everyone to share the same space, As it *should *be,

Also, I use the Soho/Peter St. jog quite often, and you're right that it's quite difficult. I often end up using the sidewalk. I of course walk my bike. I'm not a monster.

John street is expected to behave like a "woonerf" - what we will actually get from Toronto's motorists and pedestrians is an "anything goes" style of Anarchy. If that's the case, then people on bikes will be discouraged from using John. And the alternative - namely Soho/Peter - is worse.

A woonerf works best on a residential street with no exits, but John connects Queen, Richmond, Adelaide, King, Wellington and Front Streets - not an ideal candidate for a woonerf.

And, I hate to say it, but Clr Vaughan did "ignore" cyclists on this one; but in return he "promised" something about Peter/Soho. We'll see if he keeps this promise.

Using Peter/Soho northbound can be OK (albeit with minimal sidewalk use at Queen), but as Phoebe St is one way, one cannot (legally) use this route southbound.

My kids (currently 9 & 11 yr old) prefer John to Peter/Soho ((unless LUSH is our destination)) because it not convenient to mount/dismount one's bike on the sidewalk and because the intersection alignment and track issues. We need to making our cycling infrastructure comfortable and safe enough for kids to use - then we'll see more families riding. We can't grow and sustain our cycling movement if we're not getting our (respective and collective) kids on bikes!

The point is not about getting separated lanes on John.

Cyclists have next to no safe infrastructure in our City.

As of this writing Toronto has not one meter of separated bicycle lanes.

Against that backdrop the City spends almost 18 months "consulting" with the public using inaccurate data about cycling numbers on John to get to the 'Pedestrian Plaza". John is the existing crossing point for cyclists between Spadina and University. If the John Plaza is successful it will no longer be a good commuter route for cyclists. A great urban space perhaps but a successful Plaza displaces cyclists.

The City has had 2 years to develop and secure an alternative crossing of Queen Street West, that doesn't require cyclists to dismount. Nothing was done during that entire time. They have now started a study 2 years later than they should have and based on this background the Plaza shouldn't proceed until the alternative crossing is secured.

John St is intended to function more as a shared street with reduced motor vehicle speeds and no boundaries between the road space and the sidewalk, rather than as a woonerf (which is similar but more residential and often with limited options for through traffic). The portion of John between Queen and Stephanie already functions like a shared street in some ways due to parking, bike traffic volume and the timing of the light at Queen.

If we can't get a dedicated bike lane/track to make Soho/Peter more direct, perhaps the next best thing would be to install a dedicated signal button to enable cyclists to change the light for a southbound left from the westbound lane of Queen and a northbound left from Queen, level with Soho.

Instead of illegally using Phoebe to head to Soho, it's possible to take the wide laneway that runs from Beverley to Soho.

As it is, the plan for John Street will make it a less efficient place for cyclists than the current situation. Councillor Vaughan promised Peter and Soho as alternative routes, but we haven't seen any plan for making it a safe crossing for cyclists.

Thus, cyclists have been left out in the cold, while restaurants and bars get big patios on a new John Street.

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Yes, cyclists are getting shorter shrift - as per usual, including from the "progressives - as good as they often are on many things, and sometime as they are on bike things. But the mywardopic vision that often prevails can't be totally supported - is it the same approach for taxes?

The 1992 report on bike lanes/ways in the old TO that concluded Bloor was best for east-west used streetcar track presence as one of the scoring parameters for assessments - they are a known and real safety hazard, and the only way to provide the equivalent quality and safety for the Soho/Peter option actually *is * to take over some of the now-parking lot at the corner to remove that jog. Yes, that would be millions; but instead of having it come from tax revenue, how about the John St. businesses that are all behind/paying for this "cultural corridor" cough up that cost first?

And a note to one commenter - we shouldn't swallow the rhetoric about European modellings and feel until we actually begin to have the quality of legal protection and overall infrastructure that most European countries tend to have. The Bryant/Sheppard mess set a bad precedent for a cyclist getting in front of a car - even though curb conditions were near-impassable for bikes.

The death of that cyclist was a tragedy.

I understand though, that he was not wearing a helmet. Doubly a tragedy but the tracks then, were not the sole (and perhaps not even the major) factor in this sad event.

John Street has adequate cycling infrastructure for cyclists. If that is just not possible, then it would be next best that politicians ensure that Peter and Soho are aligned so that cyclists can cross the streetcar tracks at safe right angles.

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