Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

So Much for a Bike Lane

Read more articles by

This is a bike lane?

It’s bad enough that the city only created 1 km of bike lanes last year. What’s even worse is that the city is allowing those bike lanes that do exist to be systematically torn up and made unusable.

The above image is of the northbound bike lane on Beverly Street, one of the most heavily used in the city. A contractor is doing some kind of sewer or watermain work on the street, right under the bike lane. When they’re finished, they are doing an appalling slapdash patch job, leaving a rough, bumpy mound of asphalt where the bike lane used to be.

The main fault lies with the city, which does not require utilities contractors to restore the road to its previous smooth, even condition after it’s been dug up for utilities work. And since utilities are usually located at the side of the road, that means that bike lanes become unusuable.

I believe that other cities require contractors to restore the road to an even surface when they’re done. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Toronto has to do so too, or it cannot seriously consider itself a bike-friendly city.

Formerly the Beverly Street bike lan



  1. I find this to be an absolute travesty. Entire portions of St.George are unusable as they are taken up with traffic cones, huge dips in the road and the shoddiest patchjobs I have ever seen on a road. All this in front of a University which will soon be seeing tens of thousands of students arriving and a good percentage of them using bikes.

  2. Reynolds Street in Oakville is a whole m-f’ing patchwork of stuff like that.

    Also. On the bike lanes on the main street, Lakeshore Road, the bike symbols on the pavement have all nearly completely faded. (The lines have recently been repainted, though.) Today I saw cars parked in the bike lane…

    But that’s not as bad as the cars I occasionally see pulled-over ON the sidewalk here.

  3. I agree. I used to take the Davenport bike lanes daily, and most of that route looked like those photos. It was a rough ride to work.

  4. College from St George to Bay us pretty much exactly like this, there might as well be no bike lane. This is disgusting.

  5. Not only bike lanes, but sidewalks as well. There’s recently been work done at an intersection near my house, and it’s the ugliest patch job I have ever seen — a metal sheet and pebbly black asphalt. The patch is actually inches higher than the surrounding sidewalk. It has to be a pain for anyone with strollers, wheelchairs, walkers, etc, not to mention a blight on the eyes.

  6. It seems that instead of creating only one kilometre of bike lanes in the past year, the city actually reduced their number and length: a bike lane that isn’t usable isn’t a bike lane at all.

    St. George *is* bad. A similar thing is true here in the Junction, especially along Annette. Dupont is in terrible condition, too, almost all the way downtown. These aren’t bike-laned streets, but that’s another story and an additional complication. The only saving grace is that the City does seem, eventually, to repave the streets and fix the sidewalks. I agree, though, that utilities should be required to restore the streets once they are done.

  7. thanks for posting this — I saw the patch-up job yesterday as I rode by and was cursing out loud, but by the time I got home I’d forgotten my oath to write to council and complain. Now excuse me, I’ve got to write some e-mails…

  8. The way this city does roadwork is absolutely egregious. Sometimes, I can almost forgive the megabins, abandoned hydro poles and other crimes against urbanity when I observe the general shoddiness of a recently “finished” construction project. Why don’t they take away the cones when they are done? Why is the ashphalt paving to such third world standards? Why must they leave cryptic spray paint markings all over the road?

  9. I wrote to Councillor Silva and received a prompt reply:

    “I’ve received word from the project engineer that the work recently done was part of a watermain installation on Beverley St. Easan will be communicating your concerns about the temporary asphalt with the contractor of this installation, however Beverley St will be completely resurfaced this year (curb to curb), with a tentative start date of late September 2006. This includes proper and permanent resurfacing of the bike lanes in question.”

  10. Glad to hear Beverley will be resurfaced. Perhaps someone can make the same call for St. George.

    Big picture – I think the cycling community needs to advocate for other non-cyclists to try out the bicycle/pavement user experience.

    I regularly wonder:


    We need to get the Director of Public Works to try out some of these routes and “experience” the problem first-hand. Who wants to write the invite and organize a tour?

    I’d also like to advance the meme that:

    A 1 inch pothole/bump is equal to a 1 foot pothole/bump for a car.

    The guys who drive around the city spotting irregular pavement spots do so in huge works trucks with cushy industrial suspension and sprung seats. No wonder they miss the spots cyclists complain about. Ideally they should send a scout out by bicycle and then have the huge works truck show up.

    – Dabusan

  11. The city has been in touch with the contractor and have said… “The contractor still has to dig in some areas along this line of temporary restoration to install water services and assured us that they will do a smoother asphalt (still considered temporary) restoration at that time.”

    In other words – they’ve acknowledged that it is crap and will fix it up…later (late September, they say.)

    Buuuut – that is not good enough – I’ve asked what is being done to ensure that ALL City-hired contractors are required to repave to original status.
    These ‘tongues’ of bumped up pavement are all over the city. It’s not acceptable. Cyclists face so many dangers every day the VERY least we should be able to expect is that our bike lanes are ride-able.

    We’ve got to hold the City to task on this one.
    Thanks for posting on this Dylan!

  12. And thanks to Paul and Tammy for the follow-up inquiries.

    It’s good to know Beverly will be (eventually) resurfaced, but this is a chronic problem on other streets too, as everyone has pointed out.

    And, as some people have pointed out, there’s also the issue of fading bike lane markings.

  13. FYI – St. George (from Bloor to College) is getting the full resurfacing treatment too…UoT press releases says mid-October for finish date… we’ll see!

  14. I understand your concern but it would help if you actually asked around for details before you posted. I live on beverley and cycle it daily. Yes the patch job for the watermain work is bad, but only because THEY’RE RESURFACING THE WHOLE STREET IN SEPTEMBER!!!

  15. JOHN ^

    This post is an example of how the bike lanes stretching from Bloor down to Dundas have been been horribly maintained over the years. As well as an example of the City either has no backbone or is being bullied when it comes to dealing with construction companies. Don’t confuse the comments with the original post.

  16. John, if you read the other comments you’ll see that we already worked that out, but that this case is symptomatic of a bigger issue.

  17. The bike lane on Poplar Plains was like this 4-5 years ago. I complained to Councillor Michael Walker and his assistant looked into it and told me that this was a temporary cover and the contractors were required to come back later and lay down good quality pavement. Sure enough, several months later that’s what they did.

    I don’t know why they put this bumpy crap down temporarily and leave cyclists to suffer for months.

    It could be because it is just cheaper for them to have a separate crew of pavers come along later, in which case we shouldn’t have to put up with this for so long.

    On the other hand, there could be an engineering reason… for example something needs to settle and be adjusted before they put the final smooth layer down. I don’t know if this makes sense; I just made it up. But if this is the case, I think we need to live with it.

  18. Yes, the bigger issue is these bloody ‘tongues’ left by contractors as ‘temporary’ in-fills…
    The temporary fill is done because the soil needs to settle. I’ve now asked what the average time for ‘settlement’ is, depending on season. In the case of Beverly/St George – there i/was a tongue along the west side from Russel to Willcox that was never ‘fixed’. This is moot now, of course, as the whole road is being redone. The City says they try to coordinate major utility work with impending road reconstruction…

    I hope everyone contacts their councillor’s office to complain about shoddy bike lanes in their wards.

    Councillor Silva’s office has been very helpful. Here is part of an explanation they rcv’d from Transportation Services:

    “…a temporary repair is made by the utility’s contractor. The reason for this is that when the work is complete, soil re-packed into the excavation needs time to settle. This can take some time – if a permanent repair is undertaken at the time of re-filling of the excavation, and soil settlement takes place (which it does – undermining the road surface, resulting cracks and pot holes), then we would have to go back in any ways to make repairs. This is especially problematic when work is undertaken during inclement weather conditions (road repairs in winter are quite difficult to undertake but utility work in the roadway must still be done – for example, repairs to a broken water main cannot wait till summer). The permanent repair is undertaken by City contractors after sufficient time has elapsed to allow for soil settlement….”

    The City does have a policy for restoring pavement to its original condition – so that it is safe for ALL road users…it is handled by the City’s Cut Repairs Section.

  19. Thanks for all of this. It is in sad shape and sadder now and there’s more to complain about too, please.
    South of the AGO the northbound bike lane disappears and the southbond curb lane has loads of space – so why not share the lanes more equally to give more space for bikes? Hmm? It’s been over a year of vexing and nothings been done.
    And yet there’s money for some things.
    I hope the new crosswalks don’t lose their colour and that maybe we could have solid coloured concrete instead of pavers that will move and shift again, more so if they’re “holde” again. Yes, there are settlement problems but the holing on Bloor mostly in Pantalone’s turf wst of Bathurst is also disgraceful. I politely started vexing in mid-July I think, no change.
    And there’s been a very nasty even deadly settling bike pothole beside a new utility hole just near 410 Bloor St. west at a new bar. I phoned htat in to the City # 416-338-9999 about a week ago with an urgent fix – nothing has happened to fill it and it could really send someone flying and/or bust a wheel.