Friday, July 8, 2011

What is Wrong with Toronto's Bike Lanes? Users Say Nothing


What is wrong with this Bike Lane? from Bike Union on Vimeo.

I have been following developments in Toronto very carefully in the past few months. Not only because there is a ton of development and infrastructure going in up there, but also because they are experiencing the growing pains of becoming a bike friendly city.

Today, every news show in town is leading with the story about a woman being in hospital with serious head injuries after being hit by a jerk on a bicycle who went through a red light, going the wrong way on a one way street. That is tragic and the 49 year old cyclist was given the maximum ticket. The Globe and Mail complains that it isn't enough.
Although the cyclist was given a $400 dollar ticket and remains liable for any injuries if this is pursued in civil court, if he had been driving a motor vehicle he would have received six demerit points, the second highest for a moving violation.
Meanwhile, every comment in every paper is an insane attack on cyclists everywhere.

"The majority of cyclists willfully disobey almost all traffic laws most of the time, largely because they get away with it. It is as if they assume that they are 'entitled' to ignore and inconvenient traffic laws and that they law only applies when it is opportune for them."
"Must be a first. In my world (as an observor) the cyclist reigns supreme ... no rules, no repercussions!"
"Throw the book at him! I'm sick of cyclists running reds and stop signs, going the wrong way down one way streets and THE WORST is the growing trend of people riding on sidewalks. I cycle a lot and while drivers can be idiotic and aggressive....it's FAR more dangerous as a pedestrian with all of the self-centered douche-bag cyclists on the sidewalks!"
There were a couple of voices of reason:
"Just wanted to point out that agressive cars injure cyclists so often in this city that it doesn't even make the paper. A friend of mine was killed by an agressive driver last year, and I can't even find on Google a single newspaper that picked up the story. Cyclist injures pedestrian: News Story
Dozens of Cyclist injured by cars: Statistic"
and one that makes a very good point:
"One thing I notice here is the reference to the woman's head injuries. Had this been a cyclist hit by another cyclist or by a car, or falling after swerving to avoid a middle-of-the-block crosser who darted out between two cars (or hit the crosser not having had time to swerve), and had the cyclist sustained similar head injuries, I can guarantee that people on this thread would be ALL OVER the victim for being "stupid enough not to wear a helmet".

The Mayor wants to pull up the bike lanes on Toronto's Jarvis Street, not on the basis of any studies or research, but because he had "received complaints from citizens." So in an equally unscientific exercise, the Toronto Cyclists Union got their own opinions from citizens on bikes, who happen to support the lanes.
James at the Urban Country complains about Toronto and Our Backwards Approach to Road Safety
The solution to road safety here is not to slow down motorists, or build better bike infrastructure, or better educate drivers, or implement safe passing laws, or change our laws to hold the more dangerous road users accountable, or enforce no parking in bike lanes. No, our solution is to slap helmets on vulnerable road users, tell pedestrians to wear brighter clothes, tell cyclists to always have two hands on the handlebars, enforce cyclists rolling through empty intersections, rip out bike infrastructure, and fail to hold drivers accountable for their actions.

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