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politics

Are Dupont Street’s Bike Lanes Under Threat?

Cycle Toronto cried foul, then hastily retracted its claim that Mayor Ford wants the lanes gone.

A bike lane-friendly mural along Dupont Street. Photo by Martin Reis.

Yesterday, Cycle Toronto (formerly known as the Toronto Cyclists Union) whipped up a furor among cycling advocates by issuing a statement suggesting that Mayor Rob Ford’s office had asked City staff to report on the possibility of removing the Dupont Street bike lanes, and that the whole thing was the idea of councillor Cesar Palacio (Ward 17, Davenport). Cycle Toronto has since retracted the statement, because there appears to be no real substantiation for it.

Here’s what we know, currently, about bike lanes on Dupont:

Have councillors asked staff to remove lanes on Dupont?

No, but last June the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee did ask staff to review options for improving traffic flow along Dupont, especially at the intersection of Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenue. The Dupont Street bike lanes will inevitably be part of that review.

What else will the report examine?

According to councillor Ana Bailão (Ward 18, Davenport), staff are also exploring traffic-signal synchronization and the installation of a “reversible” middle vehicle lane that would alternate with morning and evening rush hours to provide an extra lane of auto traffic during peak times. (In 2009, a reversible lane on Jarvis Street was removed so that bike lanes could be installed. Council ultimately voted in favour of putting the reversible lane back.)

When will the traffic report be ready?

Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), who sits on the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, expects the report to be ready by October.

Have the bike lanes on Dupont been altered since they were installed in 2009?

Yes. Dupont’s bike lanes were slightly shortened late last summer. They no longer extend east of Lansdowne Avenue. Staff recommended this change to relieve congestion at the intersection of Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenue.

What are councillors (and their staff) saying about potential changes to Dupont’s lanes?

Councillor Ana Bailão:

“I’m not even contemplating that at the moment. We need to see what data city staff come up with… I do have lot of residents saying things have gotten worse since the bike lanes went in. Sometimes perception can be different from the reality. We want to get the public involved. We need to formalize a consultation that will include the cyclists, the people in the neighbourhood, the business owners.”

Councillor Mike Layton:

“This administration has done nothing but remove bike lanes. So if the mayor wants this, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.”

Mike Makrigiorgos, executive assistant to councillor Cesar Palacio:

“I have no clue what [Cycle Toronto] is talking about. I don’t have any information. We’re very disappointed in Cycle Toronto. We’re saying, ‘If you have any information, show it to us.’”

Has Palacio opposed bike lanes along Dupont in the past?

At last July’s council meeting, Palacio submitted a petition signed by 120 residents. It reads:

Petition to Remove Unnecessary Bike Lanes and Restore Traffic Flow

Since the introduction of Bicycle lanes along Dupont Street at the approach to the intersection with Lansdowne Avenue, business have struggled and are in need of revitalization, traffic has come to a stand still more than doubling commute times during peak periods and pollution has increased putting our most vulnerable resident at risk of increased health problems.

Therefore, we the undersigned demand that Council delete this section of bike lanes which serves no purpose and restore our communities in health and vitality.

The petition seems to refer to the section of lanes removed last year. Even if Palacio signed the petition himself, it isn’t proof he now intends to eliminate all bike lanes on Dupont.

UPDATE 2:17 PM: We did not come into possession of the wording on the petition until after this article was originally published; it was added as the last question/answer in the piece.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    One slight correction: when the Dupont bike lanes were shortened, they were ended a couple of dozen meters west of Lansdowne. They never extended east of the intersection. My largest concern is the bike lane under the railway bridge. This intersection is particularly vulnerable since it adjoins four wards: 11, 14, 17, and 18, although the Dupont bike lane is almost entirely in Ward 18. Good to hear that Councillor Ana Bailão is somewhat circumspect in her comments. Much different than dealing in the past with Bill Saundercook in Ward 13.

    • Mark Ostler

      Actually they did extend east of the intersection. Just a few metres but they did go east of Lansdowne. I’ve used the lanes on a regular basis for more than two years.

      • Anonymous

        I stand corrected. I usually turn at Edwin

      • Anonymous

        You are correct. They removed the lanes east of Lansdowne because they created an unusual car lane configuration that confused drivers and led to many close calls for everybody that uses the intersection.

  • Anonymous

    A question that hasn’t been answered was why were traffic counting machines only in the bike lanes last week between Osler St. and Edwin Ave. Here’s a picture that demonstrates that construction and placement issues skewed any findings from last week. http://skit.ch/nxtu

  • Mr Kanyo

    Were any vehicle lanes removed to install the current bike lanes?

    • Anonymous

      Yes and no. Dupont is nominally four lanes wide, but at certain points it loses a continuous lane because of left turn lanes, curbside parking or general narrowness, such as under the tracks between Lansdowne and Campbell, so it’s never been four full lanes for its entire length.

  • Anonymous

    The Dupont bike lanes clearly serve a purpose: to make cycling safer and increase the number of people who choose to cycle. A man was killed cycling through that underpass on Dupont east of Dundas because the conditions are dangerous: the road curves into the dark underpass, and there’s an additional connecting roadway from Dundas west to Dupont. The bike lane provides extra time for drivers to react to the conditions and extra space to avoid hitting cyclists. It has been effective at increasing the number of cyclists as well. Dupont is now a critical cycling corridor to downtown from the urban west end where cycling is popular.

    Also, the issue has nothing to do with the poor business activity on Dupont in the area. The area was dead and congested before the bike lanes, and the bike lanes have made the parking spaces permanent; they don’t disappear at rush hour. More people are passing through the area as well with the bike lanes. Finally, the bike lanes have been messed with already. They did in fact extend east of Lansdowne where they began/ended with a broken line. The effect on peak congestion has been minimal. And if city officials choose to endanger the lives of cyclists by removing the lane on Dupont, the effect on congestion will also be minimal. In fact, it’ll probably increase over time and there won’t be any improvement.