This is why we can’t have nice things. During the COVID-19 pandemic, cities all over Canada added bike lanes, paths and tracks to help the uptick in cycling. And people used them. Many took to their bikes as an alternative form of exercise, given to gyms being closed. Others started riding more to avoid using transit, given the risky nature of exposure.
In Toronto, bike lanes popped up everywhere. Whether it was creating new lanes, or upgrading current paths to dedicated tracks, in a few years the city saw a big increase in cycling infrastructure.
One of the hotly debated bike paths was on Yonge street, a main road in downtown Toronto. Previous to the addition, the busy road was a risky ride for cyclists. Now, with a dedicated path. It’s a little safer. There’s still people crossing over the bike lanes without looking, delivery trucks and associated risks, but many cyclists are praising the lanes.
"There is no 'somewhere else' where bike lanes 'make sense' — bike lanes make sense where they are needed, where they will be used, not where they are conveniently out of the way of motorists."
— Bells On Bloor (@BellsOnBloor) March 28, 2022
Since offices have been basically closed for the past two years, some are suggesting that office workers are in for a shock as people return to work.
Happy Tuesday all. Yonge street bike lanes are being enforced ! #bikeTO have you checked out the new Yonge street bike lanes? I did yesterday and issued my first bike lane tag. $150 served pic.twitter.com/AEDID3djRx
— PEO Erin Urquhart (@TPS_BikeHart) July 6, 2021
In a recent article in the Toronto Sun, Brian Lilley suggests that the lanes will come as an unwelcome surprise. “When office workers start commuting back into Toronto’s downtown core over the next few weeks, they’ll run into an obstacle they didn’t see when they fled their desks two years ago – bike lanes,” he wrote. “A clear side effect of COVID-19 that is little discussed are the bike lanes that have popped up all over the city, many on major arterial roads. These projects presented no problem when the commute consisted of making your way to the laptop on the dining room table, but things are about to change.”
Traffic in Toronto has always been terrible, but some people think that it will get even worse. There’s even a petition to have the Yonge Street bike lanes removed.
There’s a petition that has more than 1,800 signatures as of Tuesday to have the bike lanes taken away. The petition organizers say they don’t hate bike lanes, but Yonge Street is no place for them, citing the narrowness of the road and business of the street. Which is, of course, why the bike lanes were put there, to create a safe space for cyclists.
— Kyle (@_KyleSo) March 25, 2022
In the downtown core delivery bikes and cargo bikes are busier than ever, especially with people ordering more goods from home as opposed to heading to brick and mortar stores.
The Yonge ? lanes are essential for providing safe passage for the people that use bikes to move goods around this city for a living. We feel far better about sending our riders north of Bloor knowing they can use the Yonge lanes. Keep em, and expand north to Eglinton! #TOpoli https://t.co/grQUraeEbP
— Dave Edwards (@DaveLikesBikes) March 28, 2022
The petition also uses a story stating that emergency services couldn’t get to a cyclist who was hurt, as a result of traffic on Yonge. “It took police 25 minutes to arrive at the scene, and the ambulance did not get there for almost 45 minutes! Attendant EMS support was delayed due to the lack of passable space,” it states. Turns out the cyclist did not want their story used as a way to justify the removal of the lanes, anyway.
“Arguing that bike lanes should be removed so ambulances can respond more quickly when cyclists get injured is novel,” Matt Elliott tweeted. “You’d think it’d be better to just have infrastructure that prevents cyclist injuries in the first place.”