Drivers in Toronto are complaining about visibility issues with the Danforth bike lanes
The addition of new bike lanes across Toronto over the course of the pandemic has been a largely lauded initiative that has made streets safer for non-drivers and made it easier for residents to opt for a more eco-friendly transportation alternative.
Toronto now has bike lanes on major streets. The entire length of Bloor-Danforth is down to one lane each way with bike lanes on the curbside and parking taking up the street lane. Getting out of a car after parking is a death-defying stunt because of the congestion.— Fran Manns (@FranManns) December 9, 2020
The installation of the lanes along Danforth Avenue in particular has come with protective dividers that range from painted lines and intermittent flexible posts to more substantial barriers, such as planters that also serve as a public realm improvement.
Unfortunately, some of these delineations have made things a bit more confusing for drivers, some of whom say that they make it hard to see cyclists, especially when making righthand turns on green lights.
The rejigging of street parking — which is now on a lane inside the cycling path, rather than curbside— has not helped things, nor have curbside patios that make the streets even busier and space even tighter.
Before and after bike lanes: evening rush hour in Toronto on Danforth Ave. east of Broadview. New road design adds protected bike lanes, street patios, and 24/7 parking. pic.twitter.com/5EtPOPTuvB— Michal Kapral (@mkapral) August 28, 2020
A recent post on the topic in the 5,000-strong Danforth Community Facebook group has gained a ton of traction and clearly resonated with locals who now find driving down the Danforth "stressful," "scary," "claustrophobic" and downright anxiety-inducing.
"Am I the only one that hates turning right off the Danforth because of those impossible to see bikes in the bike lanes? I’ve been driving for 20 years and this makes me so nervous," one resident wrote on Monday.
"I turn so slowly but still can't see if there's a bike coming. Something needs to be done ... it's extremely dangerous for the bikes and for drivers."
@beyrima please note that while the Danforth bike lanes are a godsend a similar issue WILL occur due to the unsafe intersections. I see near misses every time I ride them. Drivers can’t see bikes behind (oft illegally) parked cars— Minks 77 (@Minks1977) April 14, 2021
Of the 190 comments, many agreed that it is hard to see both cyclists and pedestrians obscured by either parked cars in the adjacent lane or the aforementioned dividers.
"The row of parked cars makes it really hard for a driver to see into the bike lane. The parked cars both block one's ability to see the cyclists coming down the lane, but also increase the angle of the turn which means drivers have to crank their neck past 45°," one commenter chimed.
"I love the bike lanes, but agree that the implementation can be reviewed (and I believe will be), including the interface at intersections, turning angles, and parking."
Who was the planner that put the bike lanes on the Danforth that don't let vehicles safely go through if someone tries to open the door and get out of their car after parking?— THE WOOD COMMISSION (@Thewoodcomm) February 4, 2021
Others added that some cyclist habits exacerbate the issue, whether it's their high speeds or their propensity to squeeze through an intersection on a yellow light. Bicycles do in fact have the right of way to go straight through a green light and pass a turning vehicle.
"Bikes are harder to spot than cars or trucks. Also requires some retraining of the brain, to expect cyclists coming up on the passenger side," one member said, to which another added "the bikes are flying. Even when turning slowing they don't slow down when the cars are turning... there has to be a safer way to have these lanes for everyone."
Among the complaints, though, have been some useful suggestions that the city could take into account: things like signage to encourage both cyclists and drivers to slow down at intersections, mirrors at corners to help with visibility, and setting street parking further back from crossings (and better enforcing parking rules).
This is directly the fault of @JohnTory , who destroyed the Danforth by pushing all parking right next to the traffic, so now the drivers cannot preemptively see the pedestrians who are going to cross between the parked cars. We refuse to drive on that street due to the danger.— András (@magyandras) March 13, 2021
As many have pointed out, addressing this common problem (and other bike lane complaints) in such ways would greatly improve safety, as well as ease the nerves of everyone on the road.
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