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Pharmacy bike lane bites the dust

Posted by Derek Flack / October 5, 2011

Pharmacy bike lane removalAlthough the vote to kill the Jarvis bike lanes got most of the attention earlier this year, they weren't the only ones to get the axe. The Urban Repair Squad reminded us yesterday of the alteration of the bike lane at Dupont and Lansdowne, and today we share the scene at Pharmacy Avenue, where the City has commenced work on the complete removal of its cycling infrastructure.

It's not surprising that the loss of a bike lane in Scarborough would garner less outrage than that of a major downtown thoroughfare, but for cycling activists the trend toward lane removal is worrisome, no matter where it is. Interestingly, for those unfamiliar with the Pharmacy lane, it was one of the more useful north/south corridors for cyclists in the east end, extending from just north of the Danforth up to around Eglinton Avenue East. Opponents of the lanes always argued that few people used them and that the loss of the curb lane for vehicular use snarled traffic in the area, but a campaign to stop removal plans earlier this year, took issue with both of these statements. Needless to say, their counter-argument fell on deaf ears.

Toronto Bike Lane removalLead photo by Christian Bobak



idiots / October 5, 2011 at 09:33 am
Idiots, did anyone ever think about how much it costs to remove these lanes before putting them in? May as well just toss some money into a fire... idiots!
gadfly / October 5, 2011 at 09:53 am
The money didn't bother you when they installed them, so that is a non-starter.
Nobody used the Pharmacy bicycle lane. That area is full of retirees (just drop by the food court at Eglinton Square and you'll see what I mean). As usual, the Pharmacy bicycle lane was about optics: put one in to add to the city's mileage promise.
Face it, unless a street is being widened, there is just no room for bicycle lanes in this city.
Josh / October 5, 2011 at 10:04 am
They need to Axe the bike lanes at Dupont and Landsdowne. I'm all for being environmentally responsible and I hate Rob Ford. But no one uses them and it causes massive gridlock every day. That's more cars idling, creating more pollution. Bike lanes are actually hurting the environment in many areas. I live in the area and saw how bad it got right after they were put in. My buddy lives right on dupont and the air pollution got way worse after they put in bike lanes. If you want to ride bikes to get somewhere great, but don't use it as a solution to the environmental crisis. Everyone gets so emotional about this issue but no one thinks before they implement these stupid projects.
James replying to a comment from Josh / October 5, 2011 at 10:22 am
That is one of the most hilarious and ludicrous arguments I've ever heard in my entire life. "air pollution got way worse after they put in bike lanes". OMG, I can't believe I just read this.

People like you are why we can't have anything good in Toronto.
Roadent / October 5, 2011 at 10:22 am
I live at the bottom of Birchmount (the next bike lane to go)and I ride a lot, both for training and communting. I think I am the only person I've ever seen using these lanes, just to get out of the city northbound. Oh, and casual riders going the wrong direction "hey, it's a bike lane, that means I can ride on it any way I want!" - one of the unintended (ill-considered) consequences of bike lanes. I agree with some of the other posters: the only reason the bike lanes were put on Birchmount was because the road was wide enough to do it, not for any utility of observed prior use by cyclists. Intergration into traffic and skills training is the best way for riders to be safe in the city: I've been doing it for almost 30 years and have never had an accident or been hit, so it seems that others could, too.
Jacqueline / October 5, 2011 at 10:23 am
I use the bike lane on Dupont every day. Traffic goes pretty smooth until you get to the part after Dupont and Lansdowne where the bike lane stops and the parking lane begins. It's that damn parking lane that clogs up traffic.

I was hit last month by a driver who using her cellphone and swerved quickly before the intersection into the bike lane. I was in my bike lane waiting for the light to change. I don't know, but my experience didn't leave me with much sympathy for drivers. That being said, I support bike lanes for safety and support drivers and cyclists who use the road responsibly.
Simon Carr / October 5, 2011 at 10:23 am
Hey look at all that extra space for illegal stopping.
James replying to a comment from gadfly / October 5, 2011 at 10:25 am
My younger brother used the Pharmacy bike lane every day on his way to work (he lives on the Danforth and works near Warden & Eglinton). Funny that you should make the argument that "there is no room for bicycle lanes in this city" while referring to Pharmacy. Phramacy has plenty of room for bike lanes and was perfectly fine the way it was. There was no congestion on Pharmacy, and 2 car lanes was more than enough to support the volume of traffic on this street.

Removing the Pharmacy bike lane had nothing to do with lack of space or to reduce congestion.
Josh replying to a comment from James / October 5, 2011 at 10:28 am
"People like you are why we can't have anything good in Toronto."

There's lots of good in Toronto. Stop comlaining and enjoy it. Try arguing a point and not just saying you "can't believe". What's not to believe. Dupont is a fucking parking lot during rush hour. Peddle your smug ass over there and take a look.
Marc Lostracco / October 5, 2011 at 10:29 am
I always wondered what the machine that tarred over road markings looked like.
Darcy McGee / October 5, 2011 at 10:32 am
So it's been a while since I've ridden out there, but that lane strikes me as looking like a good way to connect form the off-street path through Eastern Scarborough (starting behind Cedarbrae Collegiate/mall) and the Warden Woods path which connects to the Don Valley path.

That path was and remains one aspect of cycling in T-dot I'm jealous of. Vancounver has the seawall, but in Toronto I can connect from the east end of Scarborough to downtown on a *dedicated separate path* that cars aren't allowed on for much of the direction. I used to ride to U of T when I was in school there. It was awesome.

Having street connectors to join the disparate valley paths is a nice idea.
Kieren replying to a comment from Josh / October 5, 2011 at 10:32 am
My, my. So angry at 10:28. Gurl, you got a loooonnnng day ahead.
Human Fly replying to a comment from Josh / October 5, 2011 at 10:37 am
I usually refrain from pointing out typos and misspellings on blogs, but I'd like to point out that "Peddle your smug ass" has a VERY different meaning from "Pedal your smug ass" (which I think is what you meant to say).

Carry on.
Adam / October 5, 2011 at 10:38 am
I ride my bike daily but don't care much for the bike lanes. But the bike lane at Dupont and Landsdowne were incredibly poorly executed. I had seen 4 accident there in 6 months. Looks like it's been fixed now. Thank you Rob Ford!!!!!
James replying to a comment from Josh / October 5, 2011 at 10:38 am
Dupont is a parking lot because there are too many cars on the road, because Torontonians don't have enough good alternatives to driving. Bike lanes provide alternatives to driving. Your argument reminds me of the similarly ludicrous argument that "streetcars cause traffic congestion". I'd like to see how traffic would be if the 55,000 people who use the King streetcar daily were driving cars instead...

I don't know if "peddling" (sic) my "smug" ass over there would do much good.
Josh replying to a comment from Kieren / October 5, 2011 at 10:43 am
Thanks for adding to it Kieren. And thanks for calling me gurl too, take shots without saying anything about the argument, how smart you are boyfriend.
nicetry replying to a comment from gadfly / October 5, 2011 at 10:45 am
You don't know me, so how do you know what bothers me and what doesn't? Lol, we all know you come on BlogTO to troll, so your point is quite moot!
nicetry replying to a comment from Josh / October 5, 2011 at 10:48 am
LOL you are just insane, Josh. Where's your measurable air quality results? Or did you just pull that one out of thin air? LOL!
Josh replying to a comment from nicetry / October 5, 2011 at 10:56 am
haha, Ya, I'm a troll if I disagree that cars that are idling forever at Dundas West and Annette don't add to air pollution. I challenge you or anyone to walk down there at 5pm today and tell me the bike lanes are a good idea. They're not.

I have no problems with bike lanes in areas that can handle them. Dupont and Annette cannot. BTW, I ride my bike all over the city. I think the College street bike lane is a great exanple of a street that uses it properly. it's not a main vain for people to get in and out of the city.

The proof is in the pudding.

If you want measurable air quality next summer stand there during a heat wave and you'll see what I'm talking about. Everyone in the area hates the lanes, I live there, I know. Do you?

Are you really "lol"ing too? It's not that funny dude. Go watch some ]Python and get some good comedy in you.

BTW, I come to blogto because it's awesome and informative, but I don't have to agree with everything someone says, that would make me a sheep sir.
mark / October 5, 2011 at 11:04 am
This whole city moves a little bit backward everyday.
scruss / October 5, 2011 at 11:15 am
Sad to see it go. Was great to make the right turn from Comstock knowing you had a safe space to ride up the hill.

We can bring it up at the Ward 35 Cycling Committee meeting that Cllr Berardinetti's hosting.
When: Thursday, October 27, 2011 6:00 PM-8:00 PM. (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Where: Warden Hilltop Community Centre Activity Room #2, 25 Mendelssohn Street
— there were supposed to be invites sent out to interested parties, but nothing yet.
W. K. Lis / October 5, 2011 at 11:23 am
Note to bicyclists: Use the ENTIRE traffic lane, if there are no bicycle lanes. Since a bicycle can legally use the roads, use the WHOLE traffic lane, especially if there is debris, potholes, sewer grates, etc. that may cause harm, injury, or safety concerns.
Maria / October 5, 2011 at 11:40 am
Looks like the Ford trolls are out in full force again today.

@Roadent, I'm a cyclist. I ride safely and responsibly, and I've still been hit by negligent drivers.

@Josh: Unless you have an air quality monitor, you'd have a hard time proving the air quality got worse. It's ridiculous. From a scientific standpoint, do you actually know how many cars you'd need to have idling to have any kind of quantifiable change in air quality? Give me a break. Go spread your crazy elsewhere.
Laura replying to a comment from gadfly / October 5, 2011 at 11:59 am
Wow, that's a generalization if I ever heard one.
I am 33, own a house in that neighborhood and use that bike lane on Pharmacy. Pharmacy is a very wide road and that bike lane doesn't impede traffic in any way and doesn't hurt by being there.
My only complaint is regarding the bad shape that the bike lanes are in. SO chewed up and full of potholes that I thought it was more dangerous using them than not!
Josh replying to a comment from Maria / October 5, 2011 at 12:02 pm
@Maria, I did not insult anyone personally by calling them crazy or anything. I'm pointing out a real problem here. I LIVE IN THE AREA, it is BAD. When your rebuttal is name calling you have already lost the argument. It's scientifically proven.

No, I did not go outside with my air detector, I used my nose. Yes, if you have cars idling it is bad. No? Cars emit something called exhaust from the tail pipe, when you put a lot of them together in a row and clog up a small road it stinks. Would it not be better if there was traffic flow?

BTW, did I mention I ride a bike? I am a rider of bikes and I hate the lane. It goes from Keele to Dundas west then stops? Why is it there??

Maybe you can tell me as well, since your a scientist about the scientific viewpoint then of idling too. I would like to see your graphs please.

I again challenge anyone to go there during rush hour and tell me it's a good idea. Take a picture.

Josh replying to a comment from Maria / October 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm
Why if I disagree with a few bike lanes am I a Rob Ford troll? I hate Rob Ford and his policies, worst mayor ever.
Jamie / October 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm
I live near the bike lane on Dupont, and I enjoy using it. That is all. :)
Clay replying to a comment from Josh / October 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm
The lane stops because Toronto has such pour cycling infrastructure. Does the fact that it stops make the rest of the lane invalid?

If you are truly concerned about idling vehicles, and air quality, due to vehicle congestion, perhaps you should campaign towards a car-free (or car-reduced) city instead of campaigning against cycling infrastructure.
mikeb replying to a comment from Maria / October 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm
@Maria. Why do we have anti-idling ordinances in Toronto if the effect of idling cars is negligible?
Andrew / October 5, 2011 at 01:03 pm
If I may redirect some of the anger here... First: Dupont was a parking lot before the bike lanes got put in, it's the growth in traffic volume that fucked everything up. Second: Where the planners messed up was in widening the SIDEWALK along St Clair instead of a bike lane when they put the streetcar right-of-way in! I mean how often do you see eight people walking side by side along there!!! Riding a bike along St Clair is suicide now!
Josh replying to a comment from Clay / October 5, 2011 at 01:09 pm
@Clay, I would love to have the number of cars greatly reduced. But to do that Transit City would have needed to have gone through. But thanks to our great mayor it was axed. You can't just shut down the roadways and expect people not to drive. We need to create proper transit. I applaud riding bikes a much as possible but cycling only works for the few of us that are able to do it. Many elderly people or people who come here from the suburbs will not ride bikes, it's not a solution. Your not going to ride your kids across town to drop them off at school. Especially in sub zero temperatues, it's not practical. We're not Europe with it's small downtown cores bikes can easily and quickly navigate to. Toronto is a massive sprawl and we need transit. until then it's cars. Hopefully electric ones soon...
josh replying to a comment from Andrew / October 5, 2011 at 01:17 pm
@Andrew traffic has gotten worse yes, but narrowing to one lane hurt even more. I do agree riding on St.Clair is insane, and the sidewalks are way too wide yes.
Genevieve replying to a comment from Andrew / October 5, 2011 at 01:18 pm
Where do you live along St. Clair that they widened the sidewalk?! Around Bathurst/St. Clair, they narrowed the sidewalk quite a bit to keep some parking spaces along the street when they created the streetcar lane.
mikeb replying to a comment from Genevieve / October 5, 2011 at 01:23 pm
Seriously where on St Clair were the sidewalks widened? All the fights were about the sidewalk cuts. We got off lightly as it is. If the TTC hadn't gone to a centre poll, we might have had a bit more room.
Andrew replying to a comment from josh / October 5, 2011 at 01:27 pm
Josh, I thought they narrowed to one lane for such a short stretch that it really didn't interfere that much... Perhaps during rush hour (whenever that is these days!), it's more of a nuisance...

Genevieve, from Bathurst towards Avenue Rd. and sporadically westward towards Dufferin...
Jacqueline / October 5, 2011 at 05:36 pm
The bike lane stops at that weird intersection at Dundas West where Dupont becomes Annette. Annette then takes over the lane and continues to Jane.
Kara / October 5, 2011 at 05:48 pm
Mayor Ford is so worried about cutting costs then why doesn't he stop painting and tarring over everything (e.g. bike lines, "graffiti").
mike replying to a comment from Andrew / October 5, 2011 at 08:13 pm
i actually just biked from yonge to christie on St. Clair, and i am familiar with the length of the street. the area between avenue and bathurst is the widest area of the whole street, so if they did widen the sidewalks, that section is the one part where they cold do that without any consequence. when you go from about christie to past lansdowne, it becomes really obvious that they made the sidewalk narrower to allow for parking and the ROW.

by the way i also took the ROW streetcar from lansdowne to yonge today, it is probably the best bit of infrastructure we've built as a city in a long time, despite the ugly lawsuits that made it take forever to complete. businesses seem to be thriving along the stretch now, there seems to be a lot of new shops and restaurants.
Stro1 / October 5, 2011 at 09:27 pm
the first thing that came into my head when I saw this picture was: this is just like burning books.
gadfly replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / October 6, 2011 at 09:00 am
WK Lis - great advice. First of all, your threats don't hold any weight since there just aren't enough cyclists to matter. However, I sincerely hope enough cyclists take your advice and start doing what you recommend. The ensuing uproar would finally get motorists off their duffs and create the backlash that will sort this out once and for all. 3% against 70% wouldn't be pretty.
gadfly replying to a comment from James / October 6, 2011 at 09:07 am
Hate to break it to you, but streetcars do cause congestion! Sure, maybe during the morning and afternoon rush hour they get cars off the road, but the other 18 hours a day they are an impediment to traffic. Do you not count the year or two rusting tracks sat at King/Ronscevalles blocking traffic there? Or the lane closure on Richmond for several months 2 years ago for rusting tracks to be stored. Or the streetcars that park on Church between Queen and Richmond ever day? But I suppose an 80,000 lb, 80 foot vehicle with 5 or 6 people onboard is a good use of resources.
Back on topic: cyclists should save their vitriol for the city that just spent millions resurfacing Victoria Park and then put the sidewalks, curbs right back where they have been for the past 50 years, despite the fact the easement exists to widen the street. They could have added 2 lanes and bicycle lanes to Victoria Park. You know, to ease traffic and benefit cyclists.
No, they leave the DVPs alternate at 4 lanes.
Stra / October 6, 2011 at 09:09 am
I don't understand - what are they going to do with the extra space now on Pharmacy? It's not like you can fit another vehicle lane in there?
gadfly replying to a comment from mike / October 6, 2011 at 09:11 am
A lot of new shops and restaurants? What happened to the old, established ones? That is the real question. Any idiot can invest their life savings, believing the city`s press clippings about cars being bad, TTC being good. But let`s see how many of these `new`shops exist in another 3 or 4 years.
St. Clair was the only E-W route in the city from the 401 to the lake that traffic could actually move, but of course that was too much for the city planners to tolerate, so they had to knock it down to 4 lanes - a single lane at Yonge.
Hilarious, just hilarious.
the lemur replying to a comment from gadfly / October 6, 2011 at 09:49 am
A lot of the old shops and restaurants were dying on the vine long before the ROW.
the lemur replying to a comment from gadfly / October 6, 2011 at 09:51 am
Haha ... motorists off their duffs? Never going to happen.
mikeb replying to a comment from gadfly / October 6, 2011 at 01:19 pm
The old established business are still mostly there. St Clair has a lot of storefronts that flip over and over again. Both sides of the "St Clair ROW improved the local businesses" debate are lacking in much proof. A lot of businesses have closed--some new ones have opened while some of those have closed. West of Caledonia & Arlington to Westmount were the most challenged business locations years ago and they still are today. Not a whole lot has changed, save for around Christie and I'd argue that Wychwood Barnes has done much more for that neigbourhood than the ROW.

St Clair is the widest road between Bloor and Eglinton, sure, but St Clair was not the only road between 401 and the lake where traffic moved. I'd take Lawrence over it. Plus crossing Keele, Dufferin, Bathurst/Vaughan, Avenue and Yonge always were slow. It's just slower now. That and the traffic signals are designed to ensure that cars stop at almost every single light.

One thing is for sure, many storefronts look nicer because the city bribed the businesses with beautification money.
mikeb replying to a comment from mike / October 6, 2011 at 01:28 pm
The lawsuits weren't the only thing to slow down the construction of the ROW. Cables were found buried in concrete where they weren't supposed to be. The project management and co-ordination between various contractors, the TTC and the utilities was clearly wanting.

One hopes that the TTC has learned a lot from this project because the sure need to. Everything seems to have been done so half-assedly. The Streetcar stops all look crooked and do not protect anyone from the elements. The next time you go back to Lansdowne, walk back to Dufferin and note the holes in the middle of the sidewalk. They shrunk the sidewalk and then cut holes for trees that promptly died and will clearly never be replaced.
Linked replying to a comment from gadfly / October 6, 2011 at 01:57 pm
Gadfly, there is no room for you in this city.
Rambler / October 6, 2011 at 08:18 pm
Cars cause congestion - remove all cars and there would be no congestion. Streetcars don't cause congestion - remove all streetcars and the congestion is still there. Bike lanes don't cause congestion - remove all bike lanes and the congestion is still there. Removing the bike lanes on Pharmacy was a complete waste of taxpayer money - it accomplished nothing of consequence except make Toronto a bit more backward.
Antony / October 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm
The "oh, cars are idling, poluuuuuuuution, you hypocrites" argument is bunk. If traffic isn't congested downtown, more people will choose to drive until it's just as congested again.

Fighting car congestion by removing bicycle infrastructure is worse than fighting obesity by loosening your belt... it's loosening your belt and quitting the gym!
mike replying to a comment from gadfly / October 7, 2011 at 05:03 am
well, i think that the KFC is pretty old, maybe you could go there to lement times gone by.
gadfly replying to a comment from Stra / October 7, 2011 at 09:34 am
STRA, you're kidding, right? Pharmacy used to be 4 lanes wide. They eliminated a lane of traffic in each direction to add the empty bicycle lanes. Do you think the bicycle lanes just - poof, appeared like magic?
Like I said, this city is a graveyard of opportunities lost. Victoria Park north of Lawrence just went through a huge makeover. When the DVP overflows (like that ever happens), Victoria Park is the alternate route. They should have made Vic Park 6 lanes and put in bicycle lanes. Every one wins.
It's not like Pharmacy or Birchmount are crazy busy with traffic, but there sure as hell are no bicycles out there either. As Vic Park gets clogged, the overflow will take Pharmacy which is getting congested north of Eglinton.
@ Linked - I was here first. You leave. How mature is that?
McRib / October 7, 2011 at 04:22 pm
dichotomous complaining again

Zach Swan replying to a comment from Josh / October 10, 2011 at 07:37 pm
What you fail to understand Josh is that 98% of the people that post on BlogTO are just that: elitist sheep that harbour firm convictions that anyone with an opinion other than their own is both an idiot and as you just saw, a target. If the bulk of the people coming to this site would just think with their brain once in a while instead of their gut or their heart, we might actually see some worthwhile discourse on this site.
electric / October 10, 2011 at 07:39 pm
That'll teach those kids to try and ride their bikes around their neighbourhood.
TheUnknown / October 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm
Gadfly/dichotomous will only be happy when Toronto gets turned into a 38-lane freeway to appease the almighty car driver - G/D, why do you even live here? Serious question. Virtually every post you make here is a litany of whiny complaints about the evils of cyclists/public transit and how awful they are, and how much better it was in the good old days when the automobile was king and not the polluting moneypits they really are. Oh boo hoo, you can't drive anywhere you want in your car, cry me a fucking river ...
Stephen Wickens / October 3, 2013 at 02:11 pm
Two years later and I still miss that Pharmacy bike lane. It could have been a key part of a network, but rollout was blown.
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