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How are the new Wellesley St. bike lanes working out?

Posted by Chris Bateman / May 14, 2014

Wellesley Bike lanesThere are two types of separated bike lane in Toronto: the ones on Sherbourne Street that discourage intrusion by drivers (but also allow access for emergency vehicles) with a gently raised curb and the newly upgraded lanes on Wellesley Street, which are marked by a strip of white collapsable bollards.

The bollards were installed earlier in 2014 as part of ongoing upgrades to the cycling infrastructure on Wellesley east of Yonge. When construction is finished on Wellesley between Yonge and Queens Park Crescent in the fall, the newly separated lanes will be aligned with the proposed Hoskin and Harbord lanes, which were approved by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee today and will run as far as Ossington, if city council gives the green light.

But why bollards? When the lanes were still in the planning stage in late 2012, the city prescribed raised curbs. I spent a few minutes on Wellesley on Monday. Within moments of arriving, a Beck taxi squeezed into the bike and ran over one of the bollards in a slow, exploratory manner, leaving it bent out of shape. Clearly there are some issues.

Dan Egan, the city's manager of cycling infrastructure, told Xtra flexible plastic posts were used because the current cycling budget didn't allow for a more comprehensive rebuild of Wellesley.

"I think in a temporary way they are a really great intervention," says Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto. "The whole point of using painted bollards is you can do it fast and you can do it cheap. You can get something in that promotes a sense of separation."

"The issue on Wellesley that seems to be emerging is that the bollards are placed at too infrequent of an interval. So in other words, because they are only every 12 metres, cars can very easily pull in to them."

On Harbord and Hoskin, the city will use a mix of separation methods, including a row of parking spaces between the car and bicycle lanes.

What do you think of the bollards?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: @toastywaffle/Twitter.



Adam / May 14, 2014 at 03:02 pm
Bollards or raised curbs or painted lines. They'll all be only as effective or ineffective as the police ticket drivers who infract on the lanes. Without enforcement, bike lanes are useless.
the lemur / May 14, 2014 at 03:12 pm
Needs sturdier bollards, closer together. Better yet, curbs that aren't rounded/don't have gaps in them that let cars in.
Cordelia / May 14, 2014 at 03:13 pm
It's hard to tell from the photo; are the lanes marked with road markings and/or signs? Seems fairly confusing.

More confusing is the issue of the taxi cab, as they are generally permitted to load and unload passengers in bike lanes, municipal code § 886-10: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_886.pdf
sean / May 14, 2014 at 03:19 pm
cars are still less of a hazard than the staggering zombies at queen and sherbourne
Ed / May 14, 2014 at 03:32 pm
Yesterday lunchtime. Frito-Lay van totally blocking the eastbound bike lane just west of Ontario. Fifteen minutes later, Frito-Lay is gone, but two big moving/delivery trucks parked in the lane, between Bleecker and Ontario.
Sigh / May 14, 2014 at 03:37 pm
Haven't seen these yet, but the cops are not enforcing the illegally parked cars parking in the Sherbourne bike lanes. I have seen cops drive right by without doing anything!

There should be large fines for parking in these lanes, because it puts cyclists' lives in danger. This could be a cash cow with all the violators we have!
FF / May 14, 2014 at 03:45 pm

I take Wellesley St. every day to and from work everyday and because of these new bike lanes being introduced. The dedicated left lane on Red lights has been eliminated (Wellesley & Jarvis St.) . Now when one car wants to take a left turn on a=the signal, ALL cars behind have to wait for the car to complete its turn since its a single lane.

It has caused even more slower commuting time with cars just wasting fuel sitting before a traffic light and guess what? its gona remain the same in the winter (5 months) when there will NO Bikes at all!!!!
no more left turns replying to a comment from FF / May 14, 2014 at 03:52 pm
FF - wouldnt the sensible thing be to eliminate left hand turns then? drivers are quick to point out how bicycles and street cars makes life more difficult for them, drivers rarely have any solutions other than build more roads, more parking and get rid of bicycles and street cars.

single passenger cars are the problem. eliminating other forms of transportation will not solve the gridlock problem.

E-Biker / May 14, 2014 at 04:01 pm
Stop your whining. This makes me hate cyclist even more.
asdadg replying to a comment from FF / May 14, 2014 at 04:07 pm
@FF maybe you can try taking a different route.
asdadg replying to a comment from FF / May 14, 2014 at 04:08 pm
@FF or here's an even better idea... Try riding your bike to work
Ezra / May 14, 2014 at 04:09 pm
Call Toronto Parking Enforcement at: 416-808-2222 (ext. 3, then ext. 1) if you see a car or truck parked in the bike lane.
Michael Holloway / May 14, 2014 at 04:14 pm
Wondering if EMS, Fire actually need access to curb. Or is this one of those - 'Well, that's the way we've always done it.' - kind of things?

This access issue (that has these bollards on Wellesley spaced 6m apart) is one of the elements that destroyed the Sherbourne Separated Lanes.

Allowing access for emergency vehicles means cabs, delivery and convenience-stop parking road-users make the lanes useless - and constantly put cyclist-users into dangerous situations.

Not to mention the irony of pushing cyclists into fast lanes around a pinch point during an emergency, creating the possibility of a collision between bike and moto vehicle that may require another ambulance be dispatched to the same location as the first call (which then created a second).

(Pinch points at driveways and intersections are the other big issues cyclists have identified on Sherbourne - has the new infrastructure on Wellesley addressed these?)

Michael Holloway
Ward 30 Bikes
Al / May 14, 2014 at 04:19 pm
I believe they are spaced that way so that emergency vehicles can park there when needed. That was a big bone of contention when the separated lanes and the bollards were being debated. It was never clear why they needed to park in the bike line when they happily take up a lane of traffic where there are no bike lanes, but it seemed to be a concern.
lulu replying to a comment from balinas / May 14, 2014 at 04:40 pm
these armadillos are great! We should get these!
RexR / May 14, 2014 at 04:54 pm
This will keep more cars out than a painted line, that's for sure, so a step in the right direction. Enforcement will be a big factor.

The growing issue is motorcycles (sorry, "e-bikes", because somehow the means powering your motor vehicle matters) in bike lanes.
Mike / May 14, 2014 at 05:00 pm
Bollards bollocks
Shit on your door handle / May 14, 2014 at 05:05 pm
Is what you're getting if I see you violate my bollards.

.. / May 14, 2014 at 06:09 pm
More bike lanes are needed, specifically on routes with room to have a parked car partition - win/win for both cyclists and drivers
iSkyscraper / May 14, 2014 at 06:56 pm
Correction - There are no types of separated bike lane in Toronto. Both the crappy mountable "curb" on Sherbourne and the flimsy, widely-spaced bollards on Wellesley with barely any offset from cars are a joke.

This is what a separated bike lane looks like:

Chicago - bollards are not bendy, much tighter spacing

Indy - bollards are not bendy, much tighter spacing

DC - bollards are not bendy, much tighter spacing

Boston - trees and wide raised island

Atlanta - similar bollard spacing to Wellesley, but wide two-way bike lanes make it more obvious when a car pulls into them. More suburban setting may also help

Portland - parked cars

SF - parked cars http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7084/7129919209_6be284b5c3_b.jpg

New York - trees, tightly spaced bollards, parked cars and islands

Seattle - physical wall

Vancouver - physical wall

Ottawa - high curb and bollards

Montreal - high curb and bollards

LA - high curb
Yardl / May 14, 2014 at 07:50 pm
I love that cyclists think that they are the victims here needing to be protected rather than the predators and malcontents who we need to be contained and separated from regular traffic. That being said, the raised curb is still not adequate in that many cyclists were observed to jump them when they needed to pass a slow cyclist which was actually causing a bicycle back-log - slower than real traffic. Full 2-foot fence and 1-foot of rumple strip at right edge to discourage bike travel 'leakage' - without gap between lights. Stops pedestrian crossing and taxi drop-off as well. Know your place, bikers - single file, locked to the right, and out of productive-people's car lanes.
Colin Smillie / May 14, 2014 at 07:51 pm
I like the idea of the bollards over the curb, I found the curb on Sherbourne causes alot of issues with cars parked or other hazards in the lane. With the bollards I can move out of the lane as needed without having to hope over the curb. I do think the bollards are Wellesley are way too far apart...
pat / May 14, 2014 at 09:26 pm
anti bikers = suburb guys. get less fat guys and run a bike ;) you'll be healthier
canuckone / May 14, 2014 at 09:51 pm
I watched the bollards being installed on Wellesley and the first thought that came to mind is are they going to be uninstalled in the winter for snow clearing. As a bike rider - I prefer the bollards to the setup on Sherbourne. The cement barrier is tricky to maneuver when preparing to make a left "non-intersection" turn. Otherwise... it's great to have these bike lanes.
heartbreakfiend / May 15, 2014 at 01:05 am
@heartbreakfiend check out my instagram
Mark / May 15, 2014 at 01:19 am
They should probably put the bollards closer together.

As for everyone grumbling about bike lanes: Get Bent. Seriously. Your whining is just so rhetorical and ridiculous. Whaaaaa my expensive mode of transportation is getting backlogged.

Boo hoo. So sad. Get lost.
Chris / May 15, 2014 at 08:48 am
I've been riding my bike to work and back along Wellesley for years and the double painted lines plus the bollards are, in my opinion, a marked improvement over the previous single painted line or, before than, no lines at all. Generally cars are now allowing more room for cyclists, they are not driving as quickly going around the curves betweem Sherbourne and Jarvis(even on those occasions when there is no other traffic to impede them)and the lane itself is wider, allowing bikes to pass each other safely. I would never drive a car across Wellesley in rush hour though - it would take three times as long as on my bike. And, like others have said - parked delivery vehicles are a dangerous pain in the butt.
blarg replying to a comment from Yardl / May 15, 2014 at 09:37 am
Uh, productive people ride bikes to work too, you know.

Predators and malcontents? There are more of those behind steering wheels.

You need to fuck off, swiftly.
David / May 15, 2014 at 09:41 am
I agree with Chris. I've been commuting twice daily along Wellesley for the past two months and the bollards are a major improvement. I see very, very few vehicle incursions into the bike lanes and cyclists have a wider separation from vehicles. It's the nicest part of my 10K commute!
Paul replying to a comment from FF / May 15, 2014 at 04:09 pm
Just by observation, i can with great degree certainty say that single occupant cars are 80% empty, and take up full lanes of traffic when parked. Meanwhile, TTC vehicles are packed during day time and bikes take up very little space at all.
ReadandFeed replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / May 16, 2014 at 11:57 am
So many good options, yet Toronto just keeps on being Toronto. Sigh.
ReadandFeed replying to a comment from Yardl / May 16, 2014 at 11:59 am
Huh. I'm neither a predator nor a malcontent. I just ride a bike and would like to do so safely.
mariposaman replying to a comment from RexR / May 18, 2014 at 10:01 pm
@RexR your cheap shot at ebikes makes you look small and out of touch. Canada legalized ebikes as bicycles 13 years ago and Ontario reluctantly did so a few years later. They are not motor vehicles, I can quote you in the HTA where they are specifically excluded as motor vehicles. If you wish to imagine they are motor vehicles in your tangerine sky with marshmallow clouds world I cannot help that, but for the rest of us in the real world, at least for now ebikes are legally bicycles and not motor vehicles. Ebikes responsibly used are no more or less dangerous than pedal bicycles.
Opus the Poet / May 19, 2014 at 09:33 pm
What they need is a Martin Ashton or Danny MacAskill to do a trials ride over cars parked in the bike lane, or a provision in the law that allows cars illegally parked in the bike lane to be considered "apparatus" for BMX Street practice and demonstrations.
Cindy / May 23, 2014 at 05:23 pm
I like the bollards on Wellsley! It may be that drivers will get used to them and start parking on them or between them but for right now it has hugely reduced the number of cars parked in the bike lane. There are always cars parked on Sherbourne up on the curb in the bike lane. I don't want to jump the curb when there is traffic so I have to get off my bike and walk around each parked car. I end up taking Parliament instead as a result.
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