Thursday, May 28, 2015

Advocacy in Action! Keeping Bike Lanes During Construction Projects

It started in early January 2015.

The councillor's office emailed us to ask for some input on a section of the Dundas East bike lanes at Carlaw that would be impacted by a condo development.  The request from the developer was to close part of the bike lane as part of the staging area for the construction of their second phase condo.  A few hundred meters of bike lane closure would result in cyclists having to merge with motor traffic, a safety issue the councillor's office was looking to mitigate.  And this closure would last almost a year, right on the back of the bike lane closure right next door at the first phase of the condo development.  We were potentially looking at a grand total of 2 years of partial lane closures in what is in our opinion, the most heavily used bike lane in the east end.

So, a few ideas were suggested.  Maybe some sharrows and some signage that stated 'shared usage lane single file" would help motorists to stay alert for merging bike traffic.   But then one of Ward30bikes' members Vivien suggested something much safer.  On the south side of Dundas, directly across from construction  site were 4 on street car parking spots.  If we could temporarily remove those 4 parking spots during the construction period and restripe the road, all the lanes could shift south and remain open.  Bike lane, car lane, car lane, bike lane.    This sounded MUCH better than:  merged bike/car lane, car lane, bike lane, parking spots.

So we proposed it, and to our delight the councillors office and Streetcar developments were supportive.  A site visit was organised in February for us and also bringing in city staff.  The site visit went very quickly.  All parties agreed it could be done.

So, with a plan, things were underway.  Council approvals happened, but then we had to wait.  Mostly for weather conditions to improve to do the scraping and painting, but there were also some misunderstandings between city departments thinking it couldn't be done, but then in fact it could.    The group of us working on this really were hoping this would have happened in April, but such is life with city processes sometimes.

Eventually it did happen, and in early May our bike lane re-opened (to lots of cheers from us!).

A big thank you to Paula Fletcher's office for being pro-active on dealing with cyclist safety issues and asking for our input at the beginning.  Also a very big thank you to Streetcar Developments for being open to our ideas for keeping cyclists safe during their development work.

This story was picked up in the Beach Mirror:

But also, just today PWIC voted unanimously in favour of improving cyclist safety during construction. Thank you to  Councillors Joe Cressy, Mike Layton, and Mary-Margaret McMahon for championing this at the committee.  

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