Wed 13 Oct 2010
One major phase of the cycling, planning and eco-disaster of the Bloor/Yorkvile rebuild is just about over – the road is now smoothly paved. But apart from the wisdom of trying to repair and renew the great number of underground utilities ahead of repaving, it all remains a travesty and squandered set of opportunities in this greenhouse century. It seems that all we will be getting for a bike lane is this temporary space marked off for the application of some sharrows – when this part of Bloor is about the most logical place in Southern Ontario for a bike lane!, analyzed as best in old TO as far back as 1992.
That planners and politicians could once again fail to make room for bikes on yet another wide street of Caronto should be a firing offence. Spadina wasn’t wide enough for bike lanes 15 years ago, though it was later in the planning stages when we began to ask for them. That neglect did not bring any change to St. Clair Ave., and that failure was repeated again with Bloor, and so we now are committing ourselves and future generations to less safe biking and avoiding the multiple wins of increased bike use.
Yes, technically some staff and politicians are correct in that bike lanes could be added here – the on-street parking is taken away by merchant consent, and the road could be repainted. But to repaint the road here for bike safety means removing a lane of the car travel either way, as the morons have rebuilt the road a simple metre too narrow for 2 bike lanes and four car travel lanes, with the current standards. And given that this is Caronto, and how feeble even some of the allegedly pro-bike politicians like Mr. Vaughan actually are when it comes to real change on the streets for continuity in bike lanes, it is most unlikely that we will be able to muster the resolve to boot off much of this traffic, despite the subway. To be quite clear: some of we bike advocates may be “unreasonable” in our expectations, but in this instance we have been far far keener on providing the room for bike lanes by smart design, and not by removing travel lanes, as many people do drive still, and vehicles are useful for many of us, though we really want to provide better options.
Yes, we have sharrows, and they can be useful in some places. They are slightly better than zilch, but it is a weak substitute for appropriate planning, will and Environmental Assessment that provides real safety for an entire class of vulnerable road users. The lane remains too narrow for comfort, the City staff have said publicly that they really prefer a wider curb lane width for sharrows now, and besides, there remains that rather ugly killing of a cyclist, Mr. Sheppard, who had the temerity to get in front of a car on Bloor, over a year ago. (Please view the surveillance video of the initial spark posted on Youtube, and consider if there is a disparity between the words used by the Crown etc. to describe what happened, and what the video shows).
In terms of dehiring staff and politicians that might have culpability for this travesty, on the City level, the only politician to vote against this $25-now-$30M Bloor project, was Mr. David Shiner. And since money has been no object with the increased costs, we need to consider how much it would cost to rebuild the curb segments with wider space for our safety, as unpopular as it would certainly be. And have a permanent memorial for Mr. Sheppard where he fell, perhaps in pink granite.
The City has an ongoing liability for bike safety here, and by failing to provide safe passage on the roads, it sets up more conflict with cyclists fearing for their lives and riding on the now-wider sidewalks. And the court documents showed they cared more for the well-being of car doors opening into planters than of cyclists.
The province must also be blamed for looking the other way when the EA Act and the Places to Grow Act were skirted, and the local MPP at the time, Mr. Smitherman can’t duck this travesty either. And it’s curious that few candidates have picked up on how the Bloor/Danforth taketheTooker bikeway could provide extra capacity for our stretched subway for the cost of paint, and is such a great bargain compared to other options…
However, cyclists are taking to the smooth pavement again, and we must ensure that we all assert our rights to use this road even though our governments have been dismal failures again in providing for our safety. Coming out of a major mayors candidates meeting last night – of the moving vehicles between Church and Jarvis, two were cars, and 7 were bicycles. We are the future.