Everybody hates Adelaide Street’s new bike lane
The official opening of Adelaide Street’s new separated bike lane should have been a moment worth celebrating for Toronto’s two-wheeled commuters, who had waited almost three years for the project to wind its way from city hall’s drawing boards to downtown pavement. And yet, judging by the reaction in the media and elsewhere online, the only thing worse than no bike lane at all is a bike lane that isn’t perfect.
The controversy stems from the fact that the lane has no physical separation from the rest of the street—just the usual lines of white paint. Because of the wording of a June city council decision, everyone was expecting, at minimum, a row of flexible bollards to protect the new lane from Adelaide’s heavy auto traffic.
The reason the bollards have failed to materialize isn’t entirely clear. Stephen Buckley, the city’s transportation manager, has told the Star that, because the new lane is part of a pilot project, the city has some latitude to experiment with different lane configurations if it wants. In other words, there are no bollards because bureaucrats don’t want them there.
For obvious reasons, this hasn’t gone over well with bike advocates. Cycle Toronto is in full-on publicity mode and Now Magazine has taken up the cause. Meanwhile, at street level, every motorist incursion into the Adelaide bike lane is being documented by cell-phone-wielding cyclists, who have been posting their pictures on Twitter and eliciting the kind of collective outrage usually reserved for war crimes. Here’s a small sample.
Watch out, cyclists: new bike lane on Adelaide actually being used for parking. pic.twitter.com/lfvwPSVeBw
— Cyberdude (@ctownson) July 24, 2014
And here’s one from J.P. Boutros, who is running for his former boss Karen Stintz’s Ward 16 council seat:
— JP Boutros – Ward 16 (@BoutrosTO) July 25, 2014
— Bryan Eaton (@B_Grade) July 26, 2014
And the mob begins to thirst for blood (or, at least, parking tickets):
— Mike Post (@PostTweetism) July 23, 2014
Even at the best of times, cyclist/cabbie relations are tense, but add fresh bike lanes to the mix, and, well:
Adelaide bike lane 1st day: blocked by construction, and used by taxi to pass other taxis. Real separation needed! pic.twitter.com/T6AMbzS7Up
— Don Cornelius (@Cleanhead) August 2, 2014
Delivery trucks have also come in for quite a bit of criticism:
— Kelowna (@Kelowna) August 8, 2014
And the outrage builds:
— BikingFreedom (@BikingFreedom) August 8, 2014
— Pedro Marques (@MetroManTO) August 8, 2014
Several observers have caught people just straight-up driving in the bike lane to bypass traffic jams, which is shitty:
— Clayzerbeams (@clayplacejones) August 8, 2014
And oh yes, there are conspiracy theories:
Buckley never intended for dedicated space on Richmond/ Adelaide. He wanted loading zones with bicycle markings. #biketo
— Duncan H (@DuncansCityRide) August 7, 2014
In all, the lane seems not to have been the cure-all for cyclist woes that many hoped it would be:
— Glenn Attridge (@glennattridge) August 7, 2014
— Þor Rune (@ThorRune) August 7, 2014
Basically, it seems like cyclists won’t be happy until those barriers are installed:
— James D. Schwartz (@jamesschwartz) August 8, 2014
Once this conflict is resolved, it will be on to the next fight. Because in the world of cycling infrastructure, controversy is a permanent condition.