Back in June, we reported on the controversy surrounding the proposal to put bike lanes on a stretch of Annette Street. The situation is now coming to a climax. On Oct. 10, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee voted 3-2 to recommend “sharrows” instead of bike lanes for this portion of Annette in response to concerns from some local merchants, but contrary to the recommendation of city staff (PDF).
The proposal will go to City Council on October 29. The Chair of the city’s Cycling Committee, councillor Adrian Heaps, has said that he will probably try to get the bike lane reinstated as originally proposed. Cycling groups are organizing a letter-writing campaign to try to support the reinstatement of bike lanes on Annette at council.
This could be a crucial test for the principle of expanding bike lanes in the city. For more information on how to support this effort, visit World 19, a community group in the area that favours of the lanes (please note that there is a very specific protocol for writing to council that has to be followed if your letter is going to be distributed — the website provides a ready-made email system to make it easy).
The controversy seems to be mostly about the removal of on-street parking. Merchants appear to fear for their livelihood if people cannot park in front of their stores. But take a look at Yonge Street. From Lake Shore Blvd to at least Eglinton, there is no on-street parking but merchants along there appear to be thriving.
What a joke. That stretch of street barely has any shops on it with heavy traffic and there is more than enough parking on all the surrounding side streets, especially during the day. I just don’t get what people have against sharing the streets with bikes.
Here’s the best article I’ve read on it: http://www.torontocranks.com/?p=630
Merchants here have a great way to get new local customers, if they could get their heads out of their tail pipes long enough to see it. Cyclists buy stuff too, in fact a cyclist is far more likely to pull over and stop then a driver is, so the merchants should encourage the bike lanes, then put bike parking along here.
As is, the merchants by showing themselves as anti bike, will simply encourage the cyclists to shop elsewhere. Mind you sharrows are not completely a bad idea, just that it’s a cop out, if a sharrow is considered a bike lane, then the entire bike lane network is in jeopardy……
Now another thing, cyclists in that ward should band together, to ensure that the councillor for that ward is not re-elected in the next municipal election, they should be willing to go so far as to tender their own candidate.
Merchants appear to fear for their livelihood if people cannot park in front of their stores. But take a look at Yonge Street. From Lake Shore Blvd to at least Eglinton, there is no on-street parking but merchants along there appear to be thriving.
Cyclists buy stuff too, in fact a cyclist is far more likely to pull over and stop then a driver is, so the merchants should encourage the bike lanes, then put bike parking along here.
Devil’s advocate on these two points:
Yonge St. is different. It has high-quality frequent rapid transit on it. Annette does not. It has a once-every-twenty-minutes bus. Visitors arriving to your business by auto are FAR FAR more likely on Annette St. than Yonge St.
On the second point, whether or not you like it, cyclists are a fairly small minority when it comes to the auto/transit/cycle/walk share in the city. If you had to choose who to cater to from a business standpoint, it would be the car-drivers.
I’m not sure whether any of this justifies ditching bike lanes on this part of Annette, I’d just wanted to point out that I see where these businesses are coming from and it’s simply not the same environment as Yonge St., or Roncesvalles Ave. (where the BIA is happy to have streetscape reforms)
i/ On the second point, whether or not you like it, cyclists are a fairly small minority when it comes to the auto/transit/cycle/walk share in the city. If you had to choose who to cater to from a business standpoint, it would be the car-drivers. i/
…and with dictatorial decisions demonstrated by Mr. Saundercook we stand a reduced chance of ever having car-drivers anything but the majority. It takes tough decisions and strong leadership to change the world, something we certainly don’t have in Ward 13.
I think sharrows are a good, practical compromise. It’s not perfect for cyclists, but it’s an incremental gain over the current sitution, and maybe shopkeepers will change their minds about bike lanes if they start to see an increase in bike traffic.
With respect, I’d be interested to know if you have much experience cycling on the roads with sharrows (like Dundas East near the bridge over the Don).
In my experience (Dundas, and to a lesser extent, Lansdowne, which is not as busy), cars typically squeeze me off the chevrons, toward the curb.
In my opinion, sharrows are not practical, if the intent is to increase safety for cyclists through providing guidance on where to ride in the lane. It may be a incremental gain, but the increment would be very small, if at all.
Some would actually argue that instead of being a marginal incremental gain, sharrows actually increase risk to cyclists. I’ve not seen any research that would support this, but maybe somebody out there can provide a link supporting this position?
I’m so glad they’re are putting bike lanes north of Bloor where they will actually be used. I bike in the area intermittently. Annette is pretty unnerving, although it’s way better than Dundas W. It will certainly get a fair bit of use unlike the bike lanes that were put on Rogers Road. What a waste those are.
The biggest waste of a bike lane was recently added on Vaughan Road. The street is wider than average, but not wide enough for four lanes, and never that busy. Now that there’s a north-west-bound bike lane (uphill), the driving lanes are narrower, and there’s no equivalent on the south side. Painting sharrows without any lane configuration changes, would have been almost perfect.
I don’t think the merchants are off-base in their concerns. The reality is that in most parts of Toronto where parking (defined as both street and Green P), local business suffers or fail to thrive …with the exceptions being areas that have very high density or are incredibly well served by transit (such as parts — but not all — of the Yonge corridor).
I’m not saying that their concerns should trump whether bike lanes get put in or not — but I do think it is unfair to denigrate these concerns, especially when merchants are already taking a pounding from all the shopping complexes along St. Clair west of Keele with very ample parking. For many of their current customers, lack of parking will be the tipping point.
Again, I’m not saying this should or shouldn’t be the deciding factor regarding bike lanes… but the City should do away with fiction that it promotes local street businesses in areas where the conditions are not in place for merchants to thrive (ie. density and parking) and big box stores with acres of parking are just a few blocks away.
“whether or not you like it, cyclists are a fairly small minority when it comes to the auto/transit/cycle/walk share in the city.”
And while adequate provision for them continues to be denied, that’s how it will stay, in a chicken-egg sort of way.
I agree that the businesses have a point about parking, and I also agree that fostering small scale local business serves an important livable city purpose. But nobody has done due diligence on the question of whether we can preserve adequate parking for merchants along Annette Street and still have bicycle lanes. City staff did a survey which indicated that parking demand will not exceed the supply; while opponents of the lanes have criticized that survey, nobody has surveyed either Annette or the nearby cross streets to determine what proportion of parked cars belong to shoppers, and what proportion belong to residents.
To put it clearly: as a cyclist, I want bicycle lanes. As a local resident, living off Jane Street two blocks from Annette, I want those businesses to survive. If that means a compromise, such as bicycle routes around the stretch of Annette between Jane and Runnymede, I will consider it if and only if a comprehensive study establishes that no other way exists to preserve the parking and delivery access that the merchants need, and the city makes acceptable provision for the safety of cyclists on those routes. But the current proposal, to pain sharrows and nothing more, makes a mockery of public consultation and seriously disrespects the lives and interests of cyclists.
Sharrows are stupid and nobody pays attention to them. They are a symptom of weak spines.
If there ever was a great place for bike lanes (even 100% separated ones) it is Annette. There will still be lots of street parking on the north south streets and thousands of people live and could walk to any of these few stores.
I drive and walk to stores in this area. Bike lanes wont affect me at all.