A month after the Woodbine Avenue bike lanes were opened in East York, locals seem divided on whether to keep or get rid of them, with duelling petitions fighting it out online.
“For some people, the bike lanes are necessary, while for any competent cyclist, they are not,” cyclist Andre Harris says. “Also, these bike lanes are pressed against the sidewalk making it dangerous for its users.”
On Sept. 10, about 40 residents gathered around the corner of Woodbine and Danforth avenues to celebrate the opening of the bike lanes.
By Sept. 18, a petition to remove the lanes was created on the website change.org. As of Oct. 10, it has more than 3,340 signatures.
A counter petition named “Don’t remove Woodbine bike lanes” was created on the same website. Over 1,931 people signed it and it was sent to Mayor John Tory.
The removal appeal is also to be sent to Tory and will further go to Beaches-East York councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon.
“If and when [both] petitions are submitted for consideration, city council will consider a number of factors when making decisions,” city communications officer Cheryl San Juan said.
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Cyclist Harris, interviewed on Woodbine, said about the bike lane he was using, “I can understand why anyone with a kid on the back, or an elderly person would need it. And sometimes you cannot ride at the same pace that drivers need you to — in these cases the bike lanes is necessary. But I think when you take traffic as a whole, this isn’t justified.”
The lanes are not fully adapted into the road, Harris noted. At a certain point, both bike and car lanes merge with the lane for cars turning right, and bikers still going north will have to turn left. This can prove to be unsafe for cyclists if they fail to signal drivers in traffic, Harris said.
The 22-year-old cyclist says they are also risky due to potholes on parts of the avenue.
“Bike lanes are beneficial on certain streets but I think Woodbine bike lanes weren’t thought out very well. It seemed like it was just put down,” Harris said.
“They are good for safety but I’ve never found them to be needed before, when there were no bike lanes,” Rahshun Craigg said.
Craigg, 24, who used to live around the bike lanes five years ago, said that although he thinks the bike lanes will only be needed during peak hours, he is glad to see fewer bikers on the sidewalks.
The city has also painted parts of the bike lanes green. “The markings are used in certain areas to help alert drivers to the presence of cyclists,” San Juan said,
She said that before the city started creating the bike lanes they had conducted research and also reached out to residents who lived beside the bike lanes.
“City staff engaged in a significant amount of analysis for the route including public consultation (June 22–23, 2016 public drop-in events, on-line feedback form and 39,000 flyers delivered to area residents) and consultation with the local councillors,” She said.
Poles were also added to separate cars from cyclists and make sure that drivers do not take advantage of the bike lanes.
“Investing in cycling infrastructure is important for ensuring that all road users, including cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, have access to safe facilitie,” San Juan said. “The goal is to connect the gaps in the network, grow the network into new parts of the city and improve the quality of the existing routes.”
While the argument concerning Woodbine bike lanes continues, this month the city is expected to vote on whether to keep or remove Bloor Street’s bike lanes.