Dennis Hanagan –
A physically-separated bike lane on the right hand side of both Richmond and Adelaide streets seems to be the best way to get cyclists across the downtown core between Bathurst and Sherbourne, say city staff.
They took their idea to the public at Metro Hall Nov. 18 for feedback before giving a report to council in early 2014 for a proposed pilot project to be installed next summer. It would be evaluated in the fall.
One travel lane on each street would be removed by the separated lanes called cycle tracks. They would be 2.2 metres wide and uni-directional meaning cyclists would travel in the same direction as vehicles. Staff indicate they would be cleared in winter.
“We are decades behind other cities” with cycle paths, one person wrote on a suggestion sheet at Metro Hall. “Provide streets for bikes only and vehicles only,” wrote another. Another said bike lanes encourage local shopping because cyclists don’t have to pay to park.
Jared Kolb, director of campaigns and membership for Cycle Toronto, says the existing potholes and pavement cracks on Richmond and Adelaide create a harrowing experience for cyclists. “With these protected bike lanes we’ll see pavement improvements.” At 2.2 metres wide cyclists can ride two abreast and talk “which will be quite lovely,” he said.
A Nov. 15 report from city staff notes that most of the off-peak parking on Adelaide is on the left side and would not be impacted by a cycle track on the right. As well firetrucks would not be impeded exiting and entering fire station 382 on Adelaide St. W.
The report adds that a track on Richmond’s right side would not conflict with left-turning traffic, especially onto streets that connect with the Gardiner Expressway.
Peter and Simcoe streets are in the offing for painted bike lanes but cyclists want physically separated lanes there, too. As for the problematic intersection at Peter, Queen and Soho Kolb said that when the parking lot there is developed Peter and Soho should be lined up “to provide safe passage over the streetcar tracks.”
As well as consulting with cyclists city staff also want to hear from other stakeholders such as motorists, local businesses, taxi drivers, delivery companies, and the tourism and film industry. Wellington St. has been dropped from the city’s bike lane study because it’s too far south from “activity areas” and the higher bike use areas. A typical cycle track costs about $500,000 per km to build, “but this can vary widely depending on the recommended design.We’re really looking forward to increasing the safety for cyclists Downtown and there’ll be a lot more cyclists using the streets,” predicts Kolb.