toronto unsafe cycling

People are furious over how unsafe a Toronto sidewalk has become

Advocates for cycling safety in Toronto are up in arms about a construction zone they feel puts cyclists and pedestrians at unnecessary risk. And videos of the site make it plainly obvious that this high-traffic stretch is an accident waiting to happen.

A stretch of sidewalk is currently closed to accommodate construction outside of the Castle Frank TTC station, temporary fencing around the closure forcing pedestrian traffic along Bloor Street East to merge with the bike lane.

NotSafe4BikesTO, an anonymous account sharing work zones that create unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, tells blogTO that the problem has been noted since at least Nov. 2, and conditions were still precarious as recently as Wednesday morning.

"I was riding westbound in the bike lane when I was met by a number of pedestrians walking towards me in the bike lane as traffic sped close by all of us," says the owner of the NotSafe4BikesTO account.

"Once it was safe to pull over and dismount, I took the opportunity to film a short clip in the hope that it might spur immediate change. This work zone is a death trap right now."

NotSafe4BikesTO remarks that pedestrians have little option but to walk into oncoming bicycle traffic if they want to continue eastbound along Bloor. Not necessarily the best option on the approach to a subway station where foot traffic should be expected.

"Obviously, construction needs to happen, but work zones need to be made safe for our most vulnerable road users: people on foot and people on bikes," the outspoken safety advocate says.

"All over the city, we see poorly signed, dangerous work zones forcing people into dangerous situations."

And if the situation wasn't dangerous enough, the unannounced arrival of construction vehicles has been forcing cyclists into vehicle lanes.

And this isn't the slower-moving, business-lined character seen on parts of Bloor Street West — the stretch of Bloor Street East running in front of Castle Frank Station is a sprawling six lanes wide, with only one signalized intersection in the over one kilometre stretch between Broadview and Parliament. A mini-highway bridging the Don Valley.

This might be one of the few stretches in the city centre where cars are regularly moving faster than the subway trains below.

NotSafe4BikesTO notes that there is action being taken at city hall to combat these danger zones, but more needs to be done.

"Councillor Mike Layton has been proactive in urging more attention be given to this issue, but we need immediate action before a life is lost," says the advocate. "The roads in this city are already incredibly dangerous for people on foot or on bikes; we don't need more obstacles than we already face every day."

Twitter users are reacting to the videos, describing the situation as "unbelievable," criticizing the city's management of the issue, and calling on local politicians to take action before tragedy strikes.

Lawyer and cycling safety advocate David Shellnutt echoes these feelings, telling blogTO that "there is a glaring lack of oversight with respect to construction in this city. In some cases, city projects are given to private contractors with seemingly little traffic safety oversight."

"What little signage and care they do give is focused squarely on motor vehicles and leaves much to desired for vulnerable road users."

"Safety precautions taken for a 2-ton steel automobile are not the same for a vulnerable road user," says Shellnutt.

"Given the explosion of people using bikes and other accessible mobility devices in Toronto, the way we view road safety has to change. All road users need to be considered."

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