Written by: Madeleine Whitestone
Unless you have been in a hole for the past few weeks or have come down with a bad case of summer nostalgia and refuse to go out in the cold, you may have noticed some fresh new white lines on Harbord Street. These lines are Harbord’s new bike lanes which have been in the making for quite some time. Toronto is a big biking city; bicyclists represent around 40 % of downtown rush hour traffic. Harbord, being Toronto’s second busiest biking street (behind College Street) accounts for hundreds of Toronto’s bikers on a daily basis, including many Harbord students and staff. Sadly, since Harbord is such a heavily used route, many biking accidents have occurred on it. There are a number of reasons for these accidents, namely that cars do not notice nor respect the Bike lanes or the bikers.
Due to the plethora of accidents that have been occurring along Harbord, the City of Toronto decided to take action back in 2012 and started brainstorming ways to fix this problem. There were many different solutions proposed; a more prominent one being a two way bike lane on the north side of the street, separated from cars with a concrete curb. This idea was shot down because of concerns around the potential loss of parking space. The City came to the conclusion to widen the lanes and thicken the lines to make the lane stand out a bit more while avoiding disturbing traffic and parking.
These bike lane upgrades are somewhat controversial in the area. Compared to the bike lane system in Montreal where they use the two way lane or to the system in Amsterdam where they have fantastic cycling infrastructure (they essentially have another road on a road dedicated to cyclists), the improvement on Harbord’s bike lanes could be seen as very meagre or hardly any improvement at all. Then again at least there are bike lanes, and when compared to many other streets in Toronto and to several other large cities, these bike lanes are pretty good. The simple fact that the City of Toronto did decide to try and improve the bike lanes shows that the City does care about cyclists and wants to improve cycling infrastructure and safety, which is much more than some cities can say. What do you think about these bike lanes? Do you think they are great or do you think that we should be doing more to ensure the safety of bikers (and our fellow Harbord students)?