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Birchmount bike lanes latest to bite the dust

Posted by Derek Flack / October 26, 2011

Birchmount Bike LaneThere's a new sign of fall in Toronto — the removal of bike lanes. At the beginning of the month we took note of the de-installation of the Pharmacy Avenue lanes, and as of late last week, work had begun on relieving Birchmount of its cycling infrastructure as well. This doesn't come as a surprise — along with those on Jarvis, both lanes had been earmarked for removal by city council back in July — but it still looks rather odd to see the bike markings buffed out.

Birchmount Bike Lane RemovalOn the flip side, opponents of the lanes will likely argue that with their removal there's enough space to accommodate an additional lane for vehicles in both directions (assuming that the centre turning lane is also eliminated) for significant stretches between Kingston Road and St, Clair. I suppose it doesn't really matter who's right given that the lanes are doomed either way, but even if the extra space for cars is made available, it sure doesn't seem like traffic was snarled on account of the bike lanes in the first place.

What's that old saying? If ain't broke...

Birchmount Bike Lane RemovalBike Lane Birchmount RemovedPhotos by Martin Reis



frank.j / October 26, 2011 at 03:23 pm
i guess the real point is if the center lane will not be removed to make 2 lanes in each direction...what purpose was there in scrubbing off the bike white line? and since MOt says cyclists can use as much of the lane as required for safety, why have separate bike lanes at all? education is almost free.
Christopher King / October 26, 2011 at 03:27 pm
Rob Ford's Toronto seems to move quite quickly when it's a project he stands behind. Too bad they can't move as equally as fast when it comes to maintaining the existing bike lanes
I don't believe the Bay/Davenport bike route has been painted in the 12 years since I moved to this city from Montreal, and it's an absolute disaster when it comes to the sections 'tween Bedford/Davenport & Bay/Bloor West
Fordlandia / October 26, 2011 at 03:30 pm
Hopefully we can remove the Harbord and Simcoe bike lanes next... Then we will be living in a world without suffering, pain and sin.

Moreover, the City of Toronto is launching a new program in 2012 to help trim the fat from our roadways. All citizens who bring in the scalp from a genuine live cyclist will be eligible for rewards of up to $100 per scalp.

Don't be a 2-wheeled lane hog sympathizer, scalp a cyclist today and help make Toronto a better place to drive!
McRib / October 26, 2011 at 03:42 pm
hey they're just making the road safer for cars.

looking forward to the irony of the first complaints of cyclists on the sidewalk
Nick replying to a comment from Christopher King / October 26, 2011 at 04:12 pm
@Christopher King, you can try calling 311 or emailing and notifying the City about the problem. It helped when I did this for College St. last year, and for Poplar Plains/Russell Hill this year, but my entreatises regarding the bike lane on Grace St. between Bloor and Harbord were ignored.

Re. these bikelanes, it was not clear from the article if in fact these were two lanes in each direction before the bike lanes were installed. If not, then their removal seems spiteful and wasteful. It certainly doesn't look like cars are lacking space in any case.

I hope that the removal of the bike lanes on Jarvis will be reconsidered with proper input from the 65,000 people who live in the community and not just a few thousand car drivers who want to barrel down the road. Especially considering the cost ($200k of our money) and the fact that the slowdowns drivers were encountering were due mainly to turn signals not being present and not the bikelanes themselves. Evidence-based governance, anyone?
BeeJay / October 26, 2011 at 04:25 pm
Who cares? It's Scarborough, where nobody walks or rides a bike anyway. I've you've spent any time living in this area you'd know that these bike lanes get used maybe once a week.

The traffic in that area is crazy, and TTC isn't really an option since it's service is so shoddy the further north you get. Outside of the warm, hipstery embrace of the downtown core people actually need to travel a non-walkable distance to work, until the city helps make not driving a car easier a reality, two bike lanes that don't connect to anything actually make sense to get rid of.

Ford isn't a good man, but I can't help but feel his detractors jump on closures like this as an excuse of what a douchebag he is, when in reality they don't make any sense to keep.

Case in point, I used to work and live along Birchmount, and I rode my bike between these two destinations: I didn't use the bike lane once, because the roads are so badly maintained and the drivers so inconsiderate, and the sidewalk so barren of foot traffic that it didn't make any sense for me to use it in the first place. My estimation is that nobody will miss either lane.

Try living and not driving in Scarborough before you start commenting.
bob loblaw / October 26, 2011 at 04:41 pm
I hope the ones on Cosburn are next.

Have you checked out the baffling line painting on that street to accommodate the bike lane, parking and buses?

Got to be one of the oddest things I have seen.
PK / October 26, 2011 at 04:43 pm
I drive on both pharmacy and birchmount everyday for years now and I hardly see any bikes who use those lanes. It was such a waste of money and time making those bike lanes in the first place. Both those streets are 50 zone and its such a pain in driving there during rush hour.

I'm glad somebody for once did the right thing for the city
Paul replying to a comment from Fordlandia / October 26, 2011 at 04:57 pm
Not even remotely funny.
Paul replying to a comment from bob loblaw / October 26, 2011 at 05:00 pm
The bike lanes on Cosburn are an excellent east-west route downtown. I cycle from Midland & Kingston Rd. downtown every single day and this prevents all who use it from having to take Danforth Ave, which has some of the worst paving ever on the shoulder. All I have to say is: good luck with that one.
Paul replying to a comment from BeeJay / October 26, 2011 at 05:01 pm
I live and don't drive in Scarborough. I also supported both of these bike lanes that have been removed. How does that sound?
gadfly / October 26, 2011 at 05:15 pm
Get rid of all the bike lanes, roads are for cars. The war on cars is over!
Paul replying to a comment from gadfly / October 26, 2011 at 05:24 pm
The war has only begun, young padawan.
moron replying to a comment from Fordlandia / October 26, 2011 at 05:28 pm
Clearly you're a moron
moron replying to a comment from BeeJay / October 26, 2011 at 05:31 pm
Who cares about that criminal-ridden cesspool anyways.
Mike / October 26, 2011 at 05:58 pm
With a Name such as Ford what would you expect??Unfortunately Mayor Ford's Legacy will be like the Ford Edsel....A FLOP!!
foo replying to a comment from Fordlandia / October 26, 2011 at 06:20 pm
Hey douchebag... go die.
NameDisplaced / October 26, 2011 at 07:04 pm
Glad to see the high level of discourse around here being maintained. Nothing gets peanut gallery going like a good bicycle versus automobile argument.
Why would anyone care about Pharmacy or Birchmount? Putting bicycle lanes out there in the first place was nothing more than Miller and the former Council paying lip-service to the vocal bicycle lobby - looked good on a map, etc.
Downtown is where most bicycle lanes are needed, and where there is the least room to put them, as poor planning would have it.
I have no idea what the long term solution will be, but with the sudden explosion of e-bikes on the roadways, at some point we're going to have cries for so many segregated lanes that the 401 would have to be used.
electric / October 26, 2011 at 07:47 pm
Pharmacy is still one lane. The only difference is they removed the bicycle symbols on the asphalt... herp de derp.

Meanwhile back at city hall, Rob Ford hasn't done shit to cut the budget in a meaningful way. He complains about miller, but miller left him a fucking surplus!! Hahaha.

How has traffic improved on birchmount and pharmacy??? Is it like night and day?!
Ian / October 26, 2011 at 08:19 pm
I ride a lot in the core, but was stuck in Scarberia for a few months recently. I rode everyday out there, but saw almost no cyclists whatsoever. I rode on the sidewalks, since there are basically no pedestrians either and the roads are downright scary due the speed of the traffic, plus the fact that drivers aren't used to cyclists.
Douglas / October 26, 2011 at 08:44 pm
Its kind of a phyric victory removing these bikelanes. Biking is increasing in popularity (go check censuses and just look around each year) and more bikes will be on the road in the future.

And more and more cyclists are coming to this simple conclusion - if you don't provide me with a bikelane to maintain my safety, and I feel unsafe driving to the side... then I will exercise my lawful right and take up the whole lane.

In the end its this choice - pass me while I ride in a bike lane, or remove the bikelane and be stuck behind me.

Your choice.
Toby Buckets / October 26, 2011 at 09:02 pm
I'm getting really sick of hearing suburbanites complain it's the city's fault they live a non-walkable distance from their offices. Move out of the sticks people. We're wasting money that could be better spent on education and transit.
electric / October 26, 2011 at 09:20 pm
What, you mean there is a trade-off to the burbs?? No...

A Toronto without bicycles is what Scarborough wants, but what is Scarborough's future?

Seems everybody there want to live next to a highway with crazy traffic moving by at over 60km/h.

Honestly suspect these people got duped by their politicians or maybe they duped themselves...
piero / October 26, 2011 at 09:59 pm
I'm a cyclist, blader and driver. I've driven Birchmount round trip 4-5 days a week for the last 5 years. I've only seen cyclists use the short stretch of road between Kingston and St Clair twice. There are other more dense areas worth fighting for bike lanes. This one is not. It's not the right time for bike lanes on this particular street. Even the sidewalks are barren.
Rob Ford / October 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm
ok, here's the truth.
i need bike lanes removed because i'm such a fat piece of $hit, i can't spare the extra 2 feet. i need as much room as i can get.

also, i will eat those scalps if you are still offering.

i'm a terrible mayor.
Gravy Train / October 27, 2011 at 12:06 am
You can have your gravy and drink it too!! Rob Ford 1, Pinkos 0.
Paul replying to a comment from NameDisplaced / October 27, 2011 at 07:47 am
I don't believe you added much to the discourse other than:
- comment about "lip-service" to Millerites and the cycling lobby
- state how bike lanes are needed downtown, but remind us how there is no room
- complain about potential inconveniences in the future for the car culture on the 400 series highways

Fact: Pharmacy bike lanes lead up to the major east-west hydro corridor that leads from the west side of Scarborough north of Eglinton all the way to Scarborough Golf Club and Ellesmere. Sorry, but these arguments that the Pharmacy bike lane went no where are a non-starter.
Paul replying to a comment from piero / October 27, 2011 at 07:48 am
So we might as well sacrifice the safety of those that do ride bicycles in that neighbourhood, am I right?
NameDisplaced replying to a comment from Paul / October 27, 2011 at 08:43 am
Yes, both of them.
Ryan L. replying to a comment from BeeJay / October 27, 2011 at 08:57 am
"Who cares? It's Scarborough, where nobody walks or rides a bike anyway. I've you've spent any time living in this area you'd know that these bike lanes get used maybe once a week. "

I lived on the East York/Scarborough border for a few years (am now a few blocks west). The problem with riding a bike in Scarborough is the speed of which the traffic moves. Riding in mixed traffic is downright suicide. (Why do you think the majority of fatal collisions in Toronto are in the burbs and not downtown?)

I'll admit, I've done the same thing: take to the sidewalk. The roads are crap (especially near the curb) and trying to ride in the middle of the street is going to result in drivers being overly aggressive with you.

And while the sidewalks are often empty, they're not always. I wouldn't dare ride on them if I saw anyone on them. People are unpredictable and I would hate it if someone stepped sideways as I was trying to pass them.

2) You could get fined (and probably will if you do this near a cop that is anti-bike)

3) It makes cyclists look bad. This sort of attitude is why drivers have negative feelings towards us. It's best if we stop giving them ammunition.

Personally, I'd be less impacted if the downtown core had no bike lanes rather than the suburbs. It's easier and often safer to ride in mixed traffic downtown. In the burbs, without bike lane I'm given the choice of endangering myself or pedestrians on the sidewalk.

mike replying to a comment from PK / October 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm
Who drives 50kph in Scarborough?
Alex G replying to a comment from Douglas / October 29, 2011 at 04:33 pm
This guy has got it all right.

"More and more cyclists are coming to this simple conclusion - if you don't provide me with a bikelane to maintain my safety, and I feel unsafe driving to the side... then I will exercise my lawful right and take up the whole lane."
oliver / October 31, 2011 at 02:03 pm
For Christmas I will again be asking the great pumpkin for $10 gasoline.

Sooner or later the US military is going to run out of money securing access to oil for the 'global market'
oliver replying to a comment from Ryan L. / October 31, 2011 at 02:05 pm
it doesn't really, matter drivers hate everyone. Cyclists, Pedestrians, Buses, HGV's but mostly and most importantly...other cars.
John / October 31, 2011 at 03:09 pm
As an American I take a perverse delight in seeing that even big-city Canadians are not immune to idiotic "cars only!" urban planning. It's weird to me that L.A. is adding bike lanes and facilities while our usually more enlightened friends to the north are taking them away.
Rollie / October 31, 2011 at 03:53 pm
Way to go, morons!
J. MacMillan / November 6, 2011 at 11:20 am
"looking forward to the irony of the first complaints of cyclists on the sidewalk" A cyclist riding on the sidewalk killed a pedestrian this year! (As part of Transit City, bike lanes were to be installed on that street.) Grid lock here we come. Attaboy, Mayor Ford!
_n / June 12, 2012 at 09:41 pm
:( Pharmacy was a connection to the Warden Woods trail, and a dedicated lane one street over from the new scarborough trails that spit out at Eglinton and vic park. Birchmount was a good north south to the bluffs on street system. I swear this city is so messed up, if you want people to use trails, you have to get to them.
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