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Strike Lanes

When the City of Toronto issued a press release last week detailing its TTC strike contingency plans, cyclists quickly noticed that alongside the proposals for parking restrictions and pleas for employers to allow workers to use staggered schedules, “cycling” and “bikes” were mentioned exactly zero times. Spacing Toronto‘s Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler reported yesterday:

Mayor David Miller noted this, too, and said earlier today that during the last TTC strike he was concerned by the thousands of Torontonians cycling in mixed traffic. To right this, the Mayor had staff pull together an amendment to the plan that would assist those cycling into the core.

What was inserted into the plans to ease the mayor’s concerns? In just three places downtown—on Queen’s Quay between Spadina Avenue and Yonge Street, on Bay Street between Queen’s Quay and Yorkville Avenue, and on Dundas Street between Broadview Avenue and River Street—the curb lanes will be converted to bike lanes for the duration of any strike.
Three locations may not sound like much, but it works out to be even less when you look closely: cyclists will get a temporary bike lane on Queen’s Quay reminiscent of 2006′s temporary Quay to the City (which was itself a re-linking of the formerly-continuous Martin Goodman Trail and was originally scheduled to be made permanent in 2007), a bike lane that they already have in the unenforced Bay Street Clearway, and a three-block long section of Dundas Street that already has a bike lane heading westbound. This stretch of Dundas over the Don Valley is part of the Bike Plan, but the bike lanes were left out of recent reconstruction work. It took a smackdown from Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker after construction was complete before Transportation Services reluctantly included a westbound bike lane over the bridge. At least a strike would give eastbound cyclists parity for a few days.
In other words, the grand plan to assist cyclists during a TTC strike amounts to nothing that cyclists don’t already have, are supposed to have, or have had in the past. Instead of this mostly empty gesture, why not make a bold statement and allow cyclists to Take The Tooker along Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue for the duration of any TTC strike? If combined with temporary lanes on Yonge Street, many more people may decide to ditch the car for a relatively speedy crosstown cycle in the safety of a dedicated lane. That would help everyone.
In contrast to the city’s lack of cycling action, BikingToronto is preparing cyclists for a possible strike in its special Bike the Strike section. It’s good to know that someone is planning.
Photo by Gabi~ from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.


  • Ken C

    I was about to post a comment saying that a strike wouldn’t be the time to make radical changes to the bike plan but maybe it is. To take the Naomi Klein-popularized logic of using crisis to create change to a civic level, a strike could be used as a way to foist bike lanes on the carlords of Toronto with no time for opposition.
    In any case, the mayor’s plan isn’t exactly visionary but it does allow for at least one access route to the core for cyclists from all directions.

  • rek

    Kway to the City? I always have to correct myself when I see ‘Quay’.
    When they do strike I’m going to have to bike, which will mean buying a bike and face city traffic for the first time. My alternatives are to quit my job, wait for taxis that will never arrive and I can’t afford, or walk for 2 hours each way.
    Million dollar PR campaign there, ATU 113.

  • spleen

    It seems vane that someone considers quitting their job vs. buying a bicycle to commute.
    Unless you live in the far burbs or suffer from a physical disability.
    During that last strike (or pending strike I forget which) a friend working at Dukes Cycle told me that they sold more bikes in two days than they would have otherwise all summer, not to mentioned they were cleaned right out of kryptonite locks. Transit strikes are sort of good for cycling advocacy, but obviously more could be done. Starting with more dedicated lanes, to bad the mayors suggestion is so weak as to offer only a couple of inadequate routes barely a mere 3 blocks in length each.