Bike Spotting for Bikeability in Toronto

Bike Spotting for Bikeability in Toronto: Promo for Safety Issue

dandyhorse has been busy in preparation for our Safety issue due out this June. We talked to cyclists at Bayview and Blythwood, Dupont Triangle, Queen and Cameron, York University, the Danforth and Chester, Regent Park, Scarborough and Queen and Dufferin, to learn about safety concerns throughout the city.

We asked: Do you feel safe biking here? What would you to to make it safer?

Here's a sneak peek at this special Bike Spotting series done to compliment original research by U of T on bikeable neighbourhoods in the city, which will be featured in our safety issue.

Also see our roundup of the Best of Bike Spotting with Safety in Focus.

Interviews by Sarah Greene and Amelia Brown

Emily Hughes, Zita Nyarady, Molly Keczan (Queen and Cameron) Photo by Yvonne Bambrick

EH- Sometimes I feel safe here and sometimes I don't.

ZN- When it’s really busy and when you’re close to a streetcar, no.

MK- In this section, no. It’s really congested from Yonge to Spadina, even from Yonge to Ossington.

EH- It would be safer if there were bike lanes. That would be awesome, but we can’t have bike lanes.

ZN- I spent a lot of time in Denmark this past summer, and they had a lot of the bike lanes that are elevated and separated from the road. That would be great. As impossible as that is, but it would be awesome.

MK- But to not have traffic in it, you would either have to get rid of streetcars or get rid of vehicles.

Luke Loughead (Dupont Triangle, Dupont and Dundas) Photo by Vic Gedris

I’m out of breath. I can’t talk. I need water. I’m a little bit stunned right now. There was a bike lane and a driver saw an opening and decided to take it without looking. He was on the phone and almost killed me. I braked hard and almost slid out. Sorry, I’m hyperventilating here.

There’s only so much you can do to improve safety. I mean, this guy was already coming out in such a way that he was probably breaking the law. He was rolling through a stop sign and he accelerated hard to take the opening without looking, and he was talking on the phone. So he was already breaking a couple of laws there. I don’t know what you can do when someone’s breaking the law.

Brent Cyca (Sunnybrook Hospital, Bayview and Blythwood) Photo by Tammy Thorne

Yes I feel safe, but on Bayview Avenue in particular I ride on the sidewalk.

Bike lanes would make it safer. They need to put in enough lanes that there are continuous paths to get from various points of the city to various destinations. I lived briefly in the Netherlands and in England, but particularly in the Netherlands and in Denmark bicycle lanes are everywhere. Just as there are separate sidewalks for pedestrians and the road for the car, there is a separate bicycle lane, and bicycle traffic lights. There’s a network of systems.

It doesn’t need to be on every road, but if I want to get from here to York Mills and Yonge, there should be a network of paths for me to get there. Or if I need to get all the way downtown, whatever. There are some bicycle paths or bicycle routes in place already, but they tend not to be continuous. There’s no complete network.

Frank Schawillie (Parkdale, Dufferin and Queen) Photo by Yvonne Bambrick

I commute all year long and I’ve been hit a couple times. It’s not just Parkdale that's dangerous, it’s Toronto in general. The road conditions are really bad – I mean the potholes and stuff – and a lot of problems are caused by aggressive driving. Parkdale is probably as bad as anywhere else in the city. There are aggressive drivers, and aggressive cyclists too. The lack of dedicated lanes is a big issue. You’re constantly being squeezed out. The other thing is that where we do have bike lanes, they don’t seem to match up. They stop, so you can suddenly end up on a road that’s 60 km/hr.

Anthony and Adelaide Humphreys (Dupont Triangle) Photo by Vic Gedris

Adelaide:  I don't feel safe at this intersection particularly. It’s wide, it’s confusing, the cars are just going everywhere, I don’t find it safe. I ride in the bike lane, but I don’t think it’s safer. I want to say a protected bike lane would solve the problem, but it's difficult because it’s a four-way intersection.

Anthony: I don’t mind this intersection so much, I just take the lane and hold it. Traffic moves reasonably slowly because it’s a confusing intersection and drivers tend to be a little bit more careful and aware, I don’t find it as bad as Adelaide (my daughter) would. There is not a lot of space to do much with this intersection, so there’s no easy magic bullet that I can think of off-hand. But we have some have some very imaginative and bright people down at city hall and I’m sure that they can come up with some good ideas to solve the problem here. Maybe with an elevation change, making this more like a T junction, rather than this crossways.

Robert Stork (Parkdale, Queen and Dufferin) Photo by Tammy Thorne

Parkdale could really benefit from a network of contraflows, like the one on Montrose here in Toronto, particularly on Macdonell in Parkdale – it’s a great connector street. There were some sharrows there, which I thought were great. (Note: Those sharrows were done by the guerilla art group the Urban Repair Squad, see dandyhorse issue #1 for more details.) It would also help if our mayor didn’t have such a backwater mentality. He’s so hostile to cyclists and we should be learning from cities like Chicago that have proactive mayors who are actually trying to make their cities better and easier to get around in. For quick fixes to improve safety we should be repainting all the lines more quickly, so you can see the bike lanes on the roads every spring when more cyclists come out.

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Special thanks to Vic Gedris and Yvonne Bambrick. If you'd like to see more of their beautiful photos, buy the Safety issue of dandyhorse.

It seems like all the cyclists we "bike spotted" with are interested in seeing a more connected network of bike infrastructure. More Bike Spotting coming to the dandyBLOG soon!

More in the Safety issue, pre-purchase it here!

Related on the dandyBLOG

Best of Bike Spotting Safety in Focus

Bike Spotting for Bikeability Part Two

Bike Spotting for Bikeability Part Three

Bike Spotting for Bikeability Part Four

Bike Spotting for Bikeability Part Five

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