Activists Repair Harbord Street's Bike Lane Gap
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Activists Repair Harbord Street’s Bike Lane Gap

Photo by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.

Needless to say, the City didn’t paint the street marking depicted above. But we know who did.
Several of these mutant bike lane symbols, with question marks instead of wheels, appeared recently along Harbord Street, between Borden Street and Spadina Avenue. They’re the work of the Urban Repair Squad, says Martin Reis, the group’s documentarian.
The placement of the spray-painted symbols was strategic: the particular four-block stretch of road that they bracket is the only part of Harbord Street that lacks bike lanes. This discontinuity has been a source of frustration for riders looking for an easy commute from Ossington Avenue to the University of Toronto. (Harbord Street terminates at Ossington Avenue to the west, and Queen’s Park Crescent to the east.)
Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) has said that the Harbord bike lanes can’t be completed, because doing so would eliminate necessary on-street parking for the retail businesses located there.
The Urban Repair Squad has a history of guerrilla public space interventions in this vein. Last year, they made some unauthorized modifications to the topiary City of Toronto logo beside the Gardiner Expressway. More recently, they spray-painted some colourful warnings on streets around downtown, to tip off cyclists to bumpy terrain.