Thursday night there was a final public consultation session for the upcoming revision to the Harbord St. bike lanes.
This session was scheduled after city staff changed their proposal for enhanced bike lanes on Harbord from a separated bidirectional bike lane on the north side of the street to a more conventional layout with unidirectional bike lanes on both sides.You can read the official documents here.
Dandyhorse has prior coverage here.
Bike lanes on Harbord have been a hot button issue, especially after the city made their original design for a bidirectional bike lane known. At the event, Dan Egan told me that the feedback on that proposal from cyclists was split down the middle, with many people strongly in support or bitterly opposed. Those in support liked the idea of a separated bike lane, while those against preferred the existing state of things over the new proposal.
Just to place this in context, the current state of affairs on Harbord between Ossington and Queen’s Park is a bike lane in either direction, with the exception of a section between Borden and Spadina, where the bike lane devolves into sharrows due to the wishes of local businesses (notably the Harbord Bakery) to preserve on street parking.
The new proposal maintains unidirectional bike lanes on both sides of the street, with some enhancements to safety made possible by the space vacated by some reduction in on-street parking.
Here are a series of cross sections, from east (just west of Queen’s Park) to west.
Between Queen’s Park and St. George, one lane of parking is being removed in favour of wider bike lanes with buffers. What I like about this design is that on the south (eastbound) side, a line of parking spaces separate the bike lane from traffic.
Between St. George and Spadina,
Between Huron and Spadina, and Borden to Ossington, the roadway is slightly less wide, and so I was told that there was not enough to do the same scheme as above.
Between Spadina and Borden (the section that does not currently have bike lanes), bike lanes on both sides are put in by eliminating parking on one side.
Note that in both of the above diagrams, the bike land on the south side has parking at the curb. I was told that there was not enough space for putting the bike lane between parking and the curb because of the necessity to have a buffer zone between the ride side of parked cars and the bike lane to prevent dooring. The other issue is that a curb side bike lane has to have a minimum width of 1.8m in order for it to be able to be plowed.
However, I would like to see the following: we can have fully separated bike lanes on the eastbound (south) side along the whole length of Harbord with the following compromise: swap the positions of the bike lane and parking on the right hand side of the above diagram, and make space for a door buffer zone by eliminating the buffer zones that flank the traffic lanes on both sides. This will make all of Harbord look very much like the section between QP and St. George, except that the westbound bike lane would not have a buffer zone along most of its length.
Here is a crude cut and paste mockup of what I am talking about, copying over the bottom row of the diagram above, and reshuffling it in the lower half, with the parking and the bike lane swapped:
I feel that this would be a reasonable compromise in that it will create a continuous, protected bike lane in one direction, and that there will still be a continuous bike lane in the other direction, which is still an improvement on what we have now.
My understanding is that cars would be kept out of a curbside bike lane with plastic bollards, rather than a rigid curb.
This is a real opportunity to test this type of separated bike lane (protecting the bike lane with a line of parked cars) that has not been tried in Toronto.
Dan et al said that they would consider this idea if it had backing from the public, and that it would be especially helpful if larger groups such as Cycle Toronto would endorse the idea.
I realize that some would prefer to have fully protected bike lanes in both directions, which entails removal of considerably more street parking. However, the above idea is a minor tweak on what is the current proposal.
Here is the timeline for the project:
There is still time to give them input into the final design before it goes to PWIC in May.
If you would like to see a fully protected bike lane on at least one side of the Harbord bike lane, contact the good folks at email@example.com, and let them know (by April 7)!
Update: Dandyhorse has some more coverage here.
Update 2: Hamish points out that connectivity of a bike network is key, and that Harbord still dumps cyclists off at the west end with no particular safe route beyond. He has sent me a map of preferred bike routes in the west end as compiled by cyclists. Some of these routes are being implemented in a piecemeal fashion over the next year or two.