LISTEN TO RESIDENTS: REMOVE BIKE LANES ON BLOOR STREET

Let there be no doubt that I share your view about the unsuitability of bike lanes on Bloor Street, and your concerns about the possibility of new ones being added to other arterial roads.

Christine Hogarth

MPP, Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Effective and inclusive transportation is critical to people’s quality of life.

Over the past few months, bike lanes on Bloor Street have emerged as one of the most significant concerns among the residents in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

Many in the community have brought their frustrations to my attention. I understand that most of you are not opposed to bike lanes outright but are opposed to the traffic congestion they create.

Road access is a precious resource that impacts public safety, local businesses, work and family time. Its allocation must be responsive to local needs. Whether you choose to drive, cycle, or walk, you have a right to move around in manner that is quick, convenient, affordable, and safe.

The City has noted that motor vehicle travel times are up since the implantation of bike lanes on Bloor Street. Statistics aside, for me, what’s concerning is the sense of unease in the community. “Someone is going to die because of these bike lanes” – that’s what a resident wrote to me. As a community leader, it is my duty to listen to this resident, and many like him who are speaking up against bike lanes on Bloor.

Let there be no doubt that I share your view about the unsuitability of bike lanes on Bloor Street, and your concerns about the possibility of new ones being added to other arterial roads. There is a place for bike lanes, but arterial roads are not those places.

Just like urban planners, policy makers, environmentalists, and traffic engineers, the community needs to have a say in what works for them. I have been listening to your concerns, and here’s what I have heard:

1. Increased Traffic Congestion: Many residents have voiced their frustrations. One among them noted: “Bloor Street has become a parking lot. It’s a gridlock all day long from Bloor Village West to Kipling. No one ever asked us, the taxpayers!”

A mother said: “I cannot get 3 kids to High Park for soccer practice during rush hour on a bike. My alternative is to choose a program that does not require me to drive along Bloor Street.” 

2. Impact on Business: Shoppers and businesses alike have voiced significant inconvenience. “The bike lanes have discouraged me from shopping at the local stores on Bloor,” said a resident from Islington; and he’s not the only one. Another said: “Businesses are being affected… customers cannot get to them. Delivery trucks can’t get to them.”

3. Safety Concerns: Reports from residents also indicate near-misses and close calls. “Impatient drivers (are) making U-turns, taking short cuts through neighbourhood streets, blocking flow of traffic,” shared one resident. Another pointed out: “The drive has become far dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. It is very hard at certain intersections to make right turns further delaying traffic.”

4. Underutilization: Many have observed that bike lanes are often underused. A resident on Saybrook Ave, mentioned, “My doctors office is on Bloor Street and it used to take me 10 minutes to get there. Now (it) takes half an hour with no bikes in sight.”

5. Delaying Emergency Vehicles: There are concerning stories I have heard about bike lanes delaying firetrucks, ambulances, police vehicles. A resident wrote: “I saw a firetruck on an emergency run on Bloor and it had to wait for the cars to clear once the traffic lights changed. There was no manoeuvre room to get out of the firetruck’s way. Someone is going to die because of these bike lanes.” 

Another shared: “The other day I sat on the Old Mill Bridge in a gridlock, bumper to bumper, and watched an ambulance try to drive through but of course cars could not move or pull over because there are white metal stacks dividing the unused bike lanes and the road. Such chaos!”

As a senior resident noted, Bloor needs “EMS more than it needs bike lanes”.

These stories are everyday reality for people driving on Bloor Street. I second these voices, and call for a rethink, starting with:

  • Removal of bike lanes on Bloor Street
  • Confining bike lanes to secondary arterials
  • Moratorium on new bike lane installations
  • Installing bike lanes where community supports them
  • A balanced and objective analysis of all bike lanes

Congestion costs. The price is freedom of movement, accessibility, emergency safety, and business viability. We need a pragmatic, not an ideological approach to bike lanes.