Photos by Andrew Bacchus
Interviews by Amelia Brown
Bike lanes on Bloor street are a fabled dream for many cyclists who have to get from one side of the city to the other. It makes sense, on the longest east-west corridor through the city to set aside some space for cyclists, after all, 29% of Torontonians use their bicycle primarily for transportation.
And after decades of proposals, studies and postponements; waves of excitement and disappointment, we are finally starting to see some traction towards safe passage for cyclists on Bloor. As part of the City's 10 Year Cycling Network Plan, a pilot project on Bloor between Avenue and Shaw is slated as one of the implementation program locations for 2016.
As Desmond Cole (profiled in dandyhorse's 2015 equity issue) mentioned in his recent Toronto Star column: "People on bicycles need an east-west thoroughfare just as much as motorists do, but they’ve never had one. Bloor-Danforth makes sense because there is already a subway running underneath it — for all its shortcomings, Line 2 is almost always a faster alternative to driving across the city. It only makes sense to devote some of the surface route to bikes."
We talked to cyclists gracious enough to stop on their commute at Bloor and Avenue, where the Yorkville sharrow ends and the proposed bike lane would begin.
We asked: Do you want to see bike lanes on Bloor Street?
Here is what they had to say:
Bloor street is 100% part of my commute. I don't find it as dangerous here around Yorkville where there aren't parked cars, but a little further down there are a lot of parked cars on the side of the street and it gets a little sketchy. Once a month there's a close call where someone comes out at you. I guess a bike lane would help, I don't know the evidence to support it.
One thing is that I don't need a very thick bike lane, on Spadina they have a very thin one and I find that's helpful.
The parts of Bloor with sharrows definitely make me feel safer, it gives me a little more self-efficacy. And I find that drivers look a little bit more when there's a lane there.
Unfortunately yes, Bloor street is a major part of my commute. I go along Bloor to Harbord —from Bay to St. George on Bloor, then St. George to Harbord. Bloor street is the most dangerous five minutes of my commute every day.
The pavement is so sketchy, and with the bike I ride you can feel every little bump in the street.
The sharrow helps when people notice it. But you have things like this guy riding up in roller blades, and the cars pushing in. If it was cordoned off like those lanes at Richmond and Adelaide it would make a difference.
You can see here, at times the traffic is one-to-one bikes to cars, yet we get two feet of the road. Bike lanes on Bloor would be a huge improvement.
I feel strongly on this topic, I ride 6 km up and down Bloor street every day. Taking another route like Harbord isn't a solution, I would be going into a totally new traffic zone, and it is quite a ways from Bloor. And it adds a solid 10 minutes to my commute.
The areas with sharrows on Bloor help when they are used as they're supposed to be used. But you would be surprised the number of vehicles who think it's an appropriate to pull over and drop off deliveries or passengers. And those vehicles also tend to go back into traffic quickly without really looking. Sharrows are not particularly effective at stopping those vehicles.
A divided, separated, dedicated bike lane that vehicular traffic didn't have access to would make it safer —and quite frankly, less hostile— as we cyclists try to make it to work.
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