Best of Bike Spotting: Safety in focus

Best of Bike Spotting for Safety

While we plan to improve bicycle infrastructure in our city, it's important to understand how safe our streets feel to the cyclists who ride them. To get a real sense of how safe cyclists feel in certain areas, and what they perceived as main threats to their safety, dandyhorse hit the streets to do some Bike Spotting for our JUST RELEASED safety issue, issue #10. (Launch party soon!)

Here's a link to our first one where year-round commuter Frank Schawillie tells it like it is:
"The road conditions are really bad – I mean the potholes – 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. ... where we do have bike lanes, they don’t seem to match up. ... so you can suddenly end up on a road that’s 60 km/hr."

We went to seven intersections in Toronto: Bayview and Blythwood, Dupont Triangle, Queen and Cameron, York University, the Danforth and Chester, Regent Park and Queen and Dufferin and asked cyclists if they felt safe.

Over the past few weeks, we've posted outtakes from our Bike Spotting to promote issue #10. Here is a round up of our Bike Spotting interviews, one from each location, that is indicative of the problems cyclists experience there. (We'll post the Bike Spotting interviews we published inside issue 10 later in the year.)

Thanks again to photographers Yvonne Bambrick, Vic Gedris and Heather Reid.

P.S. We'll be throwing a launch party for our new safety issue soon - in July. Stay tuned to the dandyBLOG for information on that. We'll be giving away a Linus bike and more.

~This round up was originally posted on July 7,2013~


Geoff Snack (Regent Park) Photo by Yvonne Bambrick

Compared with the University and Yonge area I feel safe here. But I’m a very defensive cyclist. University and Queen is awful. Usually I bike along King, and King is a bit rough.  Bike lanes improve safety. But I think education for motorists (and cyclists!) about how bike lanes work is more important.

It appears to me that cycling safety and cycling etiquette information has to be sought out. There has been no effective initiative from the government nor cycling communities to provide this information to those who ride regularly, but do not identify as cycling enthusiasts. I think reaching this large demographic is key to the safety of everyone. Lines in the road can only do so much, people need to understand what those lines mean and what needs to happen within those confines for them to be truly effective.

Morgan Hicks and Amanda Hamilton (York University, The Pond and Sentinel) Photo by Heather Reid

MF-In this area? Yeah, for sure.

AH-During the day…

MF-It’s not a very safe area at night

AH-It’s not safe in general, whether you’re biking or not.

MF- I’m not too sure how they could even improve safety in the evenings.

AH- I would just say a lot more lighting everywhere

MF- I’ve never had a bad incident in particular…not yet

AH- You just hear rumours, a lot of things happen around here

MF- You get a lot of security bulletins and police emails about things that are taking place. But as far as biking on the street with cars goes, I’ve never felt in danger or that they were speeding too much.

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.


Chenelle Atkinson (The Big Carrot, Chester and The Danforth) Photo by Yvonne Bambrick

Whether or not I feel safe depends a lot on the traffic. Maybe if the cars weren’t driving so close to me. We just need a little more room for the bikers please. I think cycling should really be considered more important in the grand scheme of things.


Peter Demakos (Parkdale, Queen and Dufferin) Photo by Yvonne Bambrick

How safe I feel depends where I am. I definitely don’t feel safe on King Street or Dufferin. I think Queen Street could be more bike-friendly, but overall as long as I have my wits about me, I feel okay. On Queen there’s so much bike traffic that folks are generally used to it. But you still do have to be really attentive about car doors.

Adding bike lanes is a good start to make roads safer. I think bike lanes would be a really great thing.

Around here, Dufferin is a street where there’s no parking and vehicles travel at quite a high speed. There’s quite a bit of aggressive driving on Dufferin. I don’t like to generalize but I do have that experience consistently and I wonder if it’s almost viewed as car territory or something, by a lot of folks. Vehicles are going at a high speed and there’s not a lot of room on the side, which is the makings of not only a scary situation but a really, potentially dangerous one.

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.


Josh Cross (Scarborough, Victoria Park Ave. and the Gatineau Hydro Bikeway Corridor) Photo by Heather Reid

Yeah, I think it’s alright, the only threat to my safety is myself, right? I mean it’s not really anybody else’s fault if I get into a crash or anything like that when I’m riding on the sidewalk. I think it’s pretty safe though. I never really bike on the roads, I think that would be a lot more dangerous. I do notice a lot of people biking around here though.


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.



More on the dandyBLOG

Bike Spotting for Bikeability

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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