Every year the number of bikes on the road seems to double. The city doesn’t have the will to build more infrastructure for this rising demand.
I often see cyclists dangerously close to fast-moving vehicles, or cyclists on the sidewalk because they are too afraid to ride on the road. Consequently,pedestrians are put at risk.
New research from Ryerson University concludes that “transportation planners really need to segregate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic just as we use sidewalks to separate pedestrians.” And: “If people see cycling as a safer activity, they would be more encouraged to commute by bike, which makes them more active and healthy citizens.”
Last year, the group Cycle Toronto did all it could to prevent the removal of the bike lanes on Jarvis Street. Unfortunately, the group was not successful despite one study showing that the bike lanes added only an additional two minutes to an automobile driver’s commute. Another study showed that the Jarvis bike lanes were being used by more and more cyclists. I, like many others, continue to cycle up and down Jarvis, coming dangerously close to moving vehicles. It’s a miracle that more people haven’t been injured along this stretch of road.
Cyclists are pleased that Sherbourne Street has proper bike lanes for those who choose to use it. However, I often see taxis and other vehicles blocking the bike lanes, forcing cyclists onto the road. This, of course, defeats the purpose of the bike barriers. In my humble opinion, there is no point in creating such a barrier without any enforcement of those who violate the rules of the road.
I often see police drive right by without asking the driver to move or issuing an infraction notice. We’re dealing with a fragmented bureaucracy when it comes to cycling and cycling enforcement on all sides.
It’s no surprise that the number of bike injuries and fatalities are on the rise in the city. And there’s also an economic cost. The city, from its own study, knows that 25% of cyclist injuries involve a motor vehicle. Armed with this information, we can surely make a difference and bring this number down.
The city should have a mandate in place for roads that it resurfaces and include bike plans. This initiative would save the city money and allow residents a clear vision going forward in regard to bike lanes and bike safety.
It’s also time for the provincial government to take a second look at the Highway Traffic Act and make it mandatory for all cyclists around the province to wear a helmet. In 2002 a study found that bicycle-related head injury rates declined by 45% in provinces where such legislation had been adopted as compared to those that didn’t adopt such legislation.
Of course, cyclists should also use proper hand signals when on the road. And motorists must be more vigilant and respectful of cyclists and the space that they need. The same attention that is given to emergency vehicles when
they are stopped on the side of the road should also be given to cyclists. Unfortunately, under the current administration at city hall, we may never see any movement on cyclists’ issues.
Just recently, Mayor Rob Ford vowed to do his best to prevent the construction of 380 bicycle parking spots in the underground parking lot at city hall. That initiative would have also seen four showers constructed for those cyclists who needed them after biking in various weather conditions year-round. Although this cyclistfriendly initiative was approved by the city’s government management committee, and welcomed by cyclists across the city,
attempts to silence these supportive voices on the part of Mayor Ford and his brother Councillor Doug Ford, have already been seen.
We are determined, to have our voices heard. We can’t immediately change the city’s infrastructure, but we can start by changing attitudes.