Posts Tagged ‘ pharmacy ’

On the Pharmacy and Birchmount bike lanes

Last week, the City of Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, voted in favour of this motion. It adds some separated bike lanes downtown, but also removes bike lanes in Scarborough at the behest of the local councillor, Michelle Berardinetti.

Ms. Berardinetti made traffic congestion her main campaign issue in the recent municipal election, which may or may not have delivered her a victory over the incumbent, Adrian Heaps. Like Rob Ford, she feels that her victory symbolizes widespread local agreement with her issue of choice (for Ford, it was subways vs. “streetcars”). Perhaps this is so– but I can think of other reasons. (“Traffic congestion is bad” is to local political rhetoric as “God Bless America” is to American political rhetoric). Activist Dave Meslin has a good perspective on Pharmacy and Birchmount lanes here. (Unfortunately his very reasonable amendments were not adopted by committee members.)

Certainly, errors were made in the way in which the bike plan has been implemented in Toronto. This is especially true in areas where residents are skeptical of their worth on high-speed, high-traffic arterial roads. Too often, lanes were built without connections to other cycling infrastructure, or built in short spurts where works crews were already working on the road. (It is also a result of a city unwilling to fully commit to true cycling infrastructure, like bike boxes and separated lanes).

Ms. Berardinetti’s main beef with the bike lanes seems to be that they were built with a “lack of community consultation”. Yet yesterday, fellow councillor John Parker (a member of the PWIC, who moved the motion to remove the Jarvis bike lanes) wrote a blog post for the Toronto Star’s cycling portal to justify his decision regarding Jarvis. In it, he writes:

Since 2001 the city of Toronto has had a comprehensive bike plan that envisions a network of bike lanes throughout the downtown area. It was drawn up after widespread consultation [emphasis mine] and was prepared by the city’s transportation services department together with Marshall Macklin Monaghan, one of Canada’s leading engineering firms.

For one councillor, it appears that consultation on the Toronto Bike Plan was sufficient (Jarvis lanes are not in the bike plan– hence Mr. Parker was using the Bike Plan as justification to remove the lanes). For Ms. Berardinetti, the fact that the Birchmount and Pharmacy bike lanes were planned from 2001 and finally painted in 2008 is, it would seem, irrelevant. That City staff have found that the Pharmacy and Birchmount bike lanes have had no effect on local traffic (pg. 15) is also lost on Ms. Berardinetti.

Pharmacy & Birchmount, the first bike lanes listed in the Bike Plan for Scarborough

The costs for removing these lanes is estimated by staff to be $210 000. That may not seem like much in a budget of $9-billion, but in Rob Ford’s Toronto, every penny counts, and is counted (supposedly). Ms. Berardinetti is hoping that the bike lane removal can be synchronized with pending road repairs, therefore resulting in no additional cost– however, the repairs are not proposed for the entire length of the lanes. If this synchronization fails, the councillor will have to explain to her constituents (“taxpayers” in the verbiage of the day) why she wants the city to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove infrastructure. She might also have to explain how her previous commitment to sharrows, in place of bike lanes on Birchmount and Pharmacy, fell off the agenda. This from the previously-linked Toronto Sun article:

“As for those bike lanes, rather than paint them over immediately, she wants to tackle them when the roads are resurfaced.

When that work happens, Berardinetti said she wants to see the dedicated bike lanes removed and shared lane pavement markings (sharrows) painted within the car lanes.

“I’m not against bike lanes,” said Berardinetti, an avid cyclist. “They had a mandate of laying down so much (bike lane) tread a year instead of having a concrete plan.””

Sharrows, while problematic, seem like a compromise here (though it still does not make a whole lot of sense to remove bike lane for sharrows). Will Ms. Berardinetti remember her previous musings? Or will council decide to kill an already-built portion of Toronto`s Bike Plan?

PWIC’s decision goes to Council on July 12-13.

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