Never mind the bollards

A busted bollard on Wellesley street after it was run over by a garbage truck. Photos by Jonah Brunet

Never mind the bollards

Garbage trucks + snow result in busted bollards in the bike lane

by dandyhorse staff

On February 12, a garbage truck moving east along Wellesley between Sherbourne and Parliament drove over several flexi-posts -- also known as bollards -- damaging most of the recently-installed bike lane separation devices. Apparently, driving into the bike lane is acceptable practice for garbage trucks when there is too much snow: If garbage collectors are unable to drag the large containers over the snowbanks, City bylaws allow them drive in the bike lane to do their job safely.

There has been quite a lot of snow, sure, but we wonder: Why weren't the bike lanes cleared properly?

Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, the City's cycling manager within transportation services, says the City of Toronto recognizes that it is important to provide safe cycling routes year-round. "The cycle tracks installed downtown over the last few years are being maintained in winter and are being well-used by people on bikes. Could the City be doing a better job at winter maintenance for cyclists? Absolutely - and we're taking steps to improve this service area," she says, adding that cyclists should call 311 when road conditions are unsafe and report the location so that it can be addressed.

Should we call if we spot a garbage truck in the bike lane?

Hayward Gulati explains, it's a health and safety issue: "As outlined in City bylaws, waste management vehicles are allowed to use the cycle track where necessary to carry out their duties. Given the amount of snow that Toronto has had this winter, accumulated snow banks ("windrows") between the sidewalk and the cycle track as well as between the cycle track and the road have made it necessary for the waste management trucks to enter the cycle track to collect garbage. This is a workplace health and safety issue as workers may be unable to lift or drag heavy garbage bins over, in some cases two large frozen snowbanks."

She says that flexi-posts are designed to bounce back -- in most cases. They cost $125 to replace. In the meantime, transportation services is working with waste management to discuss ways to modify practices to reduce damage to the flexi-posts -- as well as investigating ways to improve snow clearing around cycle tracks.

Katherine McIlveen-Brown works at Charlies Freewheels at Sherbourne and Queen. She says the Sherbourne bike lane is well-loved by Charlie's youth graduates, but that snow clearance in bike lanes is an issue.

"The demise of the flexi-posts show a bigger problem around bike lane maintenance in the winter; maybe the garbage truck wouldn't have run them over if the lanes were effectively cleared in the first place?" says McIlveen-Brown.

She adds: "Since the flexi-posts are just an added protection measure to help stop cars from parking in the lane... it's kind of ironic that one of the City's own contracted vehicles not only parked in the lane, but also completely destroyed them."

So what is the City going to do about those messed up bollards now? "Going forward, transportation services cycling infrastructure and programs unit will be looking further at the types of separation used in cycle tracks, including flexi-posts that can be removed in winter, planters and other separation types."

Good news since the flexi-posts are kind of ugly to begin with--they're a white that turns greyish brown with wear and tear. dandyhorse would love to see the city experiment with more aesthetically pleasing (and effective) ways of providing protected or safe spaces for cyclists.

Stay tuned for our dandyBLOG report on the new cycle track on Wellesley west of Yonge.


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