Terrifying comparison shows how Toronto bike lanes are solving dangerous roads
A lack of dedicated cycling infrastructure makes for some brutal conditions on the roads for bike riders in Toronto, but when a new separated bike lane is installed, it can make a world of difference seemingly overnight.
A video circulating on Twitter is driving that point home like a sledgehammer, juxtaposing the very different conditions on Danforth Avenue before and after separated cycling lanes were installed along the major thoroughfare in summer 2020.
The video was created by Toronto cyclist, health informatician and runner Michal Kapral, but has since gained widespread attention after being shared with an even wider audience by Daniel Moser, a senior transport specialist at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
Kapral tells blogTO that the video was captured "on The Danforth heading east just past Woodbine on March 7, 2018," adding that "it captures a pretty typical experience of what it was like on my bike commute to and from work along The Danforth."
He says that "The Danforth was a really awkward road space with the right lane sometimes 1.5 lanes wide but then suddenly pinching down to a normal width near the intersections," adding that on a typical 25-minute commute, he'd face about 20 to 30 close passes by drivers.
Indeed. The before video was a totally random clip that I shot on my iPhone on the way home from work one day, so very typical. The road design made it nearly impossible to take the lane because it was so wide.— Michal Kapral (@mkapral) February 23, 2022
Noting that the clip was sped up to 1.5 times its speed to fit on Twitter (which makes the video seem all the more terrifying), Kapral says that the hair-raising conditions shown were quite typical, recalling one experience where a motorist "went flying past me at about 70 km/h just a few inches from my handlebars."
He eventually caught up with the motorist at a red light, yelling, "You almost killed me! You need to leave more space when you pass people riding bikes." Kapral claims the driver "seemed completely oblivious to the danger and said to me," and that the motorist even warned him to be more careful.
"This is where the whole 'share the road' messaging doesn't make sense," says Kapral. "People on bikes don't want to share the road with drivers like that!"
Frustrated with the conditions before the lanes were installed on The Danforth, as well as other remaining unsafe cycling corridors in the city, Kapral says he's even considered riding his bike with a large sign on his back reading "PLEASE DON'T KILL ME."
The second half of the video paints a much different picture, showing the clear improvements cyclists have been provided, no longer forced to share lanes with fast-passing motorists.
The ‘after’ is so much more relaxing! Felt stressed out just watching the before!— Paul Bird (@Paul_J_Bird) February 23, 2022
It's a relatively cheap, quick, and effective solution that has people in other communities taking notice, the video originating in Toronto, gaining traction from a D.C.-based account, and being viewed worldwide with hundreds of retweets and over 1,300 likes as of noon Wednesday.
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