It appears as if work on the separated bike lanes on Wellesley and Harbord has been slow and it's unclear if the City will meet its timeline. Transportation Services has been working on the initial phase of Wellesley but they haven't gotten far enough in either project to meet the target dates.
City Staff was directed last year, June 2011, by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) to "proceed with the detailed design and consultation process for developing separated bicycle lanes on Wellesley Street with the goal of implementing them in 2012".
City staff was also directed by PWIC to start working on Harbord - Hoskin and Beverley to report in May this year:
City Council direct the Acting General Manager, Transportation Services, to commence the design phase for separated bike lanes on Harbord - Hoskin and Beverley that includes community and stakeholder consultation and consideration of the availability of parking on local side streets, with a report back to the May 2012 meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.
This year, at the April 18, 2012 PWIC meeting, PWIC requested an update on Wellesley. We will get the official update at the May meeting. I spoke with Christina Bouchard of Transportation Services who told me that they have been doing "counts, parking surveys and traffic analysis along Wellesley, and have met with the Councillor" but that they haven't prepared any public consultation meetings as of yet. Given this pace it appears that the probability of constructing the separated Wellesley Street bike lanes in 2012 is remote.
Hopefully City Staff has advanced the design work for physically separated bicycle lanes on Harbord, Hoskins and Beverley Streets as they were directed a year ago. I haven't received any information on the progress, but given the pace of Wellesley it's likely that these streets will be even later. Anyone interested should monitor the agenda of PWIC for its May 16, 2012 meeting.
The Ward groups of wards 19, 20, 27 and 28 have become concerned regarding the slow pace and have sent a letter to PWIC (pdf) to suggest a number of improvements to the process. The letter strongly supports the separated bike lanes on Wellesley, Harbord-Hoskins and Bevereley. In addition it supports the improvements suggested by Councillor Vaughan for Ward 20. It also suggests that City Council expand the scope of planning for Wellesley to include the bikeway from Ossington to Parliament.
hamish (not verified)
Compared to basic roadThu, 05/10/2012 - 13:29
Compared to basic road repairs and lack of connectivity in our patchwork, it doesn't make sense to rebuild existing bike lanes to a higher standard, especially when they likely won't work well.
This almost-certainly-not working-well seems to be assured with irregular Wellesley - adn what about ensuring good connectivity, safety and smoothness first - which the City hasn't provided with Wellesley now.
To what extent are these separated bike lanes a sop and a greenwash to cyclists, given the money issues, and to what extent is the Cyclists Union been unwise to give support to the new administration with umpteen millions alleged for park pathways and expensive rebuilds of three existing small core bike lanes with only Richmond/Adelaide really making sense? (and overdue)
Heck, if we really wanted to boost cycling, as it's only $25,000 a km to repaint a road for bike lanes, we could take the surplus from the snow clearing budget and do all of the on-road Bike Plan as well as most of Bloor St. this year!! - and that makes more sense, especially Bloor as if one looks at the crash and harm stats, we need east-west and connectivity. Yes Wellesley is E/W, and so is Harbord but they don't connect well, and they end.
We need basics first, in most of the rest of TO ahead of these ideas, and we don't even know how they will be plowed out in winter do we? And do you trust promises?
David Juliusson (not verified)
I believe separated bikeFri, 05/11/2012 - 08:15
I believe separated bike lanes make a difference. They cut down on accidents and make people who are not daily commuters more likely to get out on their bikes.
I understand what Hamish is saying. Don't spend the money ripping up existing bike lanes. Wait. To me the ideal would be that bike lanes get put in as a matter of course when road work is happening. Roads need repaving on a regular basis and the cost is much less if it is being done as part of the work instead of later.
Finally, bike lanes save money over the long term. Typically, roads wear out from the outside towards the middle. Weight is a real consideration on how fast this process occurs. Compared to trucks, bicyclists weight is negligible.
Agustin (not verified)
Hamish, separated bike lanesThu, 05/10/2012 - 16:03
Hamish, separated bike lanes are not "greenwash". They truly do work.
Yes, painted bike lanes are good as well, but not as good as physically separated ones. Separated bike lanes are an open invitation to people who don't normally feel safe riding in traffic, or even in painted lanes.
Even as someone who has ridden in traffic for a long time, I sigh with relief when I get into a separated lane because I know I don't have to be on full alert for cars and trucks.
Take a look at Vancouver's Hornby lane for an example:
A Separatist (not verified)
Painted unseparated lanesFri, 05/11/2012 - 07:26
Painted unseparated lanes create space that will be used by cars as shoulders for loading and illegally stopping and parking.
Taxis are legally permitted to "stop" to pick and drop off passengers in unseparated bicycle lanes. Who regulates how long the stop is and who is going to give tickets for stopping too long.
Countries like Holland, Denmark and Germany have gone to great expense to separate bicycle lanes.
North American cities like New York , Montreal , Vancouver etc have started to develop separated bicycle lane networks.
Why? The public wants them and they are safer.
The cycling community is unrepresentative of the general population who won't ride a bicycle on the road system because they are afraid.
The current unseparated lanes on Wellesley Harbord are inadequate.
The lanes disappear in both directions when you get to Queen's Park and cyclists either ride on University Avenue around Queen's Park Circle or ride on the sidewalks through the park.
The lanes also disappear on Harbord between Bathurst and Spadina where NIMBY retailers have prevented their installation.
We need to design our streets so that 7 year olds and 75 year olds feel safe riding a bicycle.
That won't happen until we have a bikeway network of physically separated bicycle lanes.
Mad Jack McMad (not verified)
My main concern is that ifFri, 05/11/2012 - 10:19
My main concern is that if you wait for the city to re-pave Wellesley/Harbord, you may be waiting a long time. In case you haven't noticed, the city isn't really repairing many roads. Dufferin has been named the worst road in the province (although the judges probably haven't seen Osler); Dupont is a mess between Bathurst and Ossington; the lower part of Sherbourne is still a mess; and riding on the stretch of Bay between Davenport and Bloor has actually loosened the headset on one of my bikes. It feels like the city is using road repairs as a reason to avoid adding to bike infrastructure, and consultation over bike infrastructure as a reason to avoid road repairs. Meanwhile, Enbridge keeps digging up any remaining stretch of undamaged road, and leaving patches that turn into potholes in about three months.
It's not enough to haveFri, 05/11/2012 - 16:27
It's not enough to have separate bike lanes. The design of these separate bike lanes matters. Let's hope that the design work is being done right, and that the design is available for proper review.
The struggles of David J., myself, and others against the P-gates at Ontario Place, and the bollards at the Boulevard Club, should be cautionary examples. Just becasue the Martin Goodman Trail is a completely separated route doesn't mean that there can't be design elements which are clearly dangerous to cyclists, yet are stoutly defended by City or Ontario Place staff as being "for safety".
Intersection and laneway-crossing design of these separated bike lanes is crucial. If they are not gotten right, then no matter how safe a 7 or 75 year old might feel, they will not be safe. A false feeling of safety may in fact be one of the most serious dangers.
By the way, while I appreciate the painted bike lanes, at least for the ability to pass gridlocked cars backed-up in the traffic lanes, I don't believe that riding is all that much safer in a bike lane than in a traffic lane. A cyclist who gets on a painted, or poorly-designed separated, bike lane and thinks "I can relax now, I'm safe" has just increased their risk of an accident.
Whether the "separated" bikeFri, 05/11/2012 - 23:07
Whether the "separated" bike lanes are a green-wash or not, one thing is certain, and that is the combination of City Hall's inability and unwillingness to take action on a proper infrastructure and the endless disagreements among cyclists, is what blocks progress of any kind, which in turn perpetuates the same conflicts and contradictions.
This is fodder for more of the same, ad infinitum.
What I want to see is a cohesive cycling infrastructure with lights, signs, and safe features so that there is no war between drivers and cyclists but a mutual understanding of where each mode of transportation belongs at.