Back in January I noticed that these "Cyclists Dismount" signs were added along the Bloor St. sidewalk by the railway underpasses between Lansdowne Ave. and Dundas St. West.
I don't necessarily have a problem with telling cyclists to dismount while riding on sidewalks. After all, sidewalks are meant for pedestrians, and I have personally had some close encounters with sidewalk cyclists along here. It's especially dangerous to pedestrians stepping out from the Bloor GO train station.
However, these signs may be an indication of a bigger issue. Many cyclists hit the sidewalk when riding through these underpasses because they fear for their safety on the road. I often see cyclists ride on the road along Bloor St., only to hop up on the curb when they reach the underpasses.
I can understand why cyclists might want to do that.
From the Don Valley to Central Parkway in Mississauga, this is definitely the worst part of Bloor St., for many reasons (Ok, Six Points stinks too). But for cyclists in particular, the problems are:
- Between Dundas and Lansdowne, Bloor St. opens up into four lanes of fast-moving traffic. The only bit of traffic calming is the traffic light at Symington Ave.
- The pavement is awful.
- Motorists seem to speed through here in a race to arrive first at the next pinch point in the road.
- When you're down in the underpasses, there's no chance to "escape" to a sidewalk in an emergency.
- It can be difficult and dangerous to make a proper vehicular left turn off of Bloor St.
It's no wonder that cyclists take to the sidewalks here. But instead of hanging up some signs to address the symptoms, maybe something can be done to address the actual problems of the dangerous and scary roadway?
Oh Vic...Thu, 03/06/2008 - 17:15
...get with the program. A cyclist must die first. City must then respond saying the situation has been under study. Once the study is complete we must bitch and complain about for ten years to demand that they do something. Then they will reply that they will have to do another study to see if the first one was still valid.
Er, sorry. Maybe I am getting this confused with the coroner's report.
hamish (not verified)
what's the tipping point in Caronto the carrupt?Fri, 03/07/2008 - 10:25
I totally understand where Darren is coming from as it really does seem that the only thing that will get the City to move/spend money is a death, or two, or five - maybe...
and then you'll likely need to sue.
But that stretch is quite nasty to bike through - once on the other side after a bike event in High Park I stayed on the road, and nearly had a collision with a BIke Ambassador coming off the sidewalk....
So I totally understand why bikes are on the sidewalk, and why the City has put up a sign, as the alternative, to provide safe passage for the cyclist on the street, would involve spending a Lot More Money in repair of the pavement underneath, signs saying cyclists may take lane, as the grates at the bottom are dangerous, and I think there's been cement spilled in the lane near the curb on one upslope (which may have worn off over time by now), and cyclists taking a lane Slow Down Traffic.
The other option - to do as has been done on Lansdowne south of College - restraining the car traffic to one lane - and providing Bike Lanes for safe cycling - is more Heretical and thus Impossible, though it's just cheap paint.
I agree that it's the nastiest stretch of Bloor/Danforth in the core - and it's a key stretch of any bike lane of worth along Bloor. So maybe we should try to focus on this - along with BYBIA in the core, then the Bloor Visioning.
But mere signage is inadequate though it's understandable.
Too bad the Network/Road and Trails sub-committees were amputated along with a lot of the Cycling Committee - those volunteers weren't putting in those bike lanes fast enough!
It's very helpful to have this documented and a topic of discussion. Thanks Vic!
david (not verified)
The only section of sidewalk I ever ride on.Fri, 03/07/2008 - 11:18
I very rarely ride my bike on the sidewalk - this section of Bloor is one place I sometimes do, but only when going west. I don't normally dismount when I do, and the sign won't likely make me, but at least it will make me think about it.
Normally I slow down to a speed just slightly faster than what's safe going through the new bollards by the Blvd Club.
chephy (not verified)
Sidewalk cycling is illegalFri, 03/07/2008 - 11:54
Sidewalk cycling is illegal to start with, and these signs are never enforced, so I don't really care what it tells a sidewalk cyclist to do. My biggest problems with the sign (and others like it, such as at Christie overpass) are
1) It's not completely clear clear whether the sign is directed at cyclists on the sidewalk or on the road. (Of course I won't "obey" it on the road, but an a$$hole driver might think it gives me an excuse to endanger my life and yell at me.)
2) It creates the impression that sidewalk cycling is legal, and in fact encouraged. Which leads to the belief that cycling on the road is illegal, or at least discouraged.
I would really like an explanation for these signs from the city: at whom they are directed, what purpose do they serve, and how do they explain guiding cycling behaviour on sidewalk, when they don't even allow sidewalk cycling. I guess they could say that they're only addressing cyclists with tires under 24" which are allowed on sidewalk. Still, for the two reasons above, the signs are bad.
BurnhamthorpeFri, 03/07/2008 - 14:31
It is some sort of weird admission that cyclists use the bridge and the City is not smart enough to think about why.
Vic also has an excellent series of photos the Burnhamthorpe Bridge in Mississauga where a cyclist was thrown over to his death. In that case the sidewalk was marked as a bike lane.
BurnhamthorpeFri, 03/07/2008 - 14:54
Here's my Burnhamthorpe Rd. link.
8sml (not verified)
I agreeSat, 03/08/2008 - 08:28
chephy: I'm glad I'm not the only one who found those signs confusing. The first one I came across was for the underpass on Christie at Dupont, heading toward the end of the bike lane. I assumed the sign was for cyclists on the street (since that is where we're supposed to be), and that we needed to get off our rides and walk where the bike lane ended.
The underpass on Dupont between Symington and Lansdowne feels pretty hostile to me too. I always ride on the road there, but I often end up white-knuckling the handlebars as I hear cars roaring up behind me.
Danielle (not verified)
west end difficulties continued..Sat, 03/08/2008 - 22:31
That stretch of Bloor Street always has me nervous, but ALSO, just north of that intersection, where Dundas West meets Dupont is EXTREMELY harried and difficult. You have traffic going in almost six directions, a sharp bridge which then lands a hard turn and a tiny distance to get into the left hand lane if one is going to Annette. You can't see if theres cars speeding under the bridge who will rush up behind and hit you as you transfer to that lane. It's quite terrifying. I've done it once or twice in dead-times of the mid-day, but can not imagine doing that near dark or in rush hour.
Dupont/Dundas/AnnetteSat, 03/08/2008 - 22:43
Yes, that intersection is pretty bad too. Apparently a cyclist was killed there a few years ago, but that was before my time in Toronto so I don't know much about it (Tino?)
To go from Dupont to Annette, you don't actually have to get into the left lane. Both lanes are turn lanes. Left is left-only, and right is straight/left. I think the pavement markings are nearly gone though...and of course buried in snow right now.
Dupont/Dundas/AnnetteMon, 03/10/2008 - 11:25
Yes that is the least favorite intersection along my commute as well. Actually, I stay on the main roads going east, but westbound, I come up from Edwin, take the south sidewalk under the bridge, and then cut up the southward ramp and cross dundas to Humberside. That is easier for me at rush than dueling with traffic under the bridge.
Actually, when it is really snowy like today, the side streets are definitely not plowed, and so I just bit the bullet and take Bloor all the way in to Dovercourt or Ossington.
Martino (not verified)
Flip a coinWed, 03/12/2008 - 16:04
Go under the bridge on the road with nowhere to bail in case some driver falls asleep behind the wheel or ride on the sidewalk which is obviously not meant for you to share.
It's really bad infra-structure planning. Very anti-cyclist. Underpasses in Europe accomodate cyclists and pedestrians equally. You do this best by taking space away from the roadway and dedicating it to bikes, not by having the cyc;ist share the narrow sidewalk with pedestrians.
Cyclists were clearly simply written out of the planning process with the exception of that friendly sign.
Ken (not verified)
Sidewalk CyclersWed, 04/02/2008 - 15:28
And has anyone noticed that the 'new, improved and narrower' Lansdowne Avenue from College to Bloor - despite featuring useless 'sharrows' (is that a painting of flattened cyclists on the road ?) - sees consistent use of wider sidewalks by cyclists...
People seem afraid to cycle on Giambrone's new narrowed road, what with all the TTC vehicles and <?increased?> traffic...
Also a note - for the past day or so the city has been doing a traffic count near West Toronto School....
LansdowneWed, 04/02/2008 - 16:38
I disagree....I find that the new Lansdowne is vastly better for cycling than it was before.
The project wasn't perfect, but It was an improvement from my own cycling and walking point of view.
biker (not verified)
Lansdowne is a traffic messWed, 04/02/2008 - 17:08
I disagree about Lansdowne. The painted marks for bicyclists give a false sense of security for bicyclists as if they were meant to be given space on the road, when trucks and cars can barely travel safely without bicycles on the road at all.
I find it amazing that Councillor Giambrone forced through this project to create a new street design without dedicated bicycle lanes, and which slows down the TTC bus route from Dundas to College. As the Chair of the TTC and the Bicycle Chair, shouldn't he have taken buses and bicycles into consideration first and foremost as his job?
sidewalk cycling, and now we know that sharrows are no goodWed, 04/02/2008 - 19:08
I still see people riding their bikes on sidewalks even where there is a bike lane. I don't think that even bike lanes are good enough for most people. I think that truly separated spaces are the answer, but Toronto does not want to hear it. Not now, anyway.
The city can install 30,000km of bike lanes, but most people still won't use the bike lanes. People won't use the bike lanes because riding in them still won't feel safe. Motor traffic still intrudes into bike lanes; they have to for right hand turns. Motorists like the "free parking" bike lanes provide, forcing bike traffic into the faster and aggressive motor traffic. And Enforcement is currently nil because meaningful enforcement is impossible with these bike lanes.
Yes, it will get people to ride more, but I don't think that our current style of bike lanes will create new cyclists. For that we new separated spaces.
However, I'd rather have a bike lane than nothing. It's a reasonable interim step.
But sharrows are nothing more than a lane with inadequate width which cannot be safely shared by cyclists and motorists, so warnings are painted on the road to indicate this. The term "sharrow" is misleading because it implies "sharing" when there is not enough room to safely do so.
That this proposal was created and accepted shows either of the following: little understanding of what the results would be, is an attempt to give "something" to cyclists without actually giving anything away, lack of imagination is finding other ways to accommodate all road users safely, complete lack of priority for cyclists and their safety, or impatience.
Me, I'd like to think of Landsdown's sharrows as an experiment which did not have the intended results. Fine, we've leaned. Now we know that sharrows is not what its name implies, it the opposite of what that. It means lanes too narrow to be shared. Cyclists now know to not accept sharrows; they are not good enough for Toronto‘s cyclists.
That battle was lost, now we are on to the next battles, on with better ideas, on with better solutions, on with new experiments.
Anonymous (not verified)
I agree with LansdowneWed, 04/02/2008 - 23:49
I agree with Lansdowne feeling a bit unsafe with only sharrows.
On the other hand, I like the sharrows on the newly reconstructed Dundas St. bridge going over the Don Valley Parkway. Seems to be enough room for a bike lane there.
For me, the difference of having a streetcar on a fixed track versus a speeding and unpredictable bus passing me makes a huge difference in the space required.