City council recently approved a project to upgrade the bike lanes on a stretch of Davenport Road between Dupont Street and Yonge Street to make the road safer for cyclists.
According to the city, Davenport Road has become a key link in the city’s bikeway network, providing connections to existing routes on Bay Street, and Avenue Road / University Avenue.
Between 2016 and 2020, there were 27 collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians on Davenport Road, and many Toronto cyclists do not feel that the city is safe for cyclists. In 2019, NOW Magazine ranked the Davenport stretch of bike lanes among the city’s worst, saying that the routes were especially precarious where cars were parked due to dooring incidents.
The program would turn the existing bike lanes into protected lanes separated from the road by physical barriers to reduce the risk of conflict from high traffic volumes and dooring from parked cars.
City councillor Mike Layton said that the proposal received a significant amount of community support due to concerns over safety risks. The upgrade is a city priority for the year, slated as a summer and fall construction project.
The proposal received some opposition due to concerns over parking and traffic volumes. As traffic volumes during the pandemic dropped to 44 per cent of typical volumes, concerns were raised that the bike lane upgrades could cause congestion once Toronto residents return to work.
When asked about the potential loss of street parking spaces, a city of Toronto spokesperson wrote, in a statement, “Currently, there is 48 per cent parking utilization along the corridor, and the peak parking demand can be accommodated with parking on one side. This will result in the loss of just 16 on-street parking spaces in total.”
Layton added that by encouraging more people to travel by bicycle instead of car, “it takes the strain off of our gridlock and congestion as well as on our parking supply.”
Bicycling is also a physically distanced way to get around the city when many people are wary of public transit. This proposed upgrade will also significantly impact bike couriers, who rely on bike lanes to make their deliveries.
Jennifer Scott, an organizer with Gig Workers United, a community union that includes bike couriers, said, “The only version of a bike lane that could protect vulnerable bike users is a [physically] protected lane, a hundred per cent.”
The city’s final public consultation report stated that the public generally supported the proposed changes and believed that the bike lanes were due for an upgrade, providing Toronto’s cyclists with a safer experience.
There is also a move to add separated bike lanes along Yonge Street in midtown Toronto from Bloor Street to Davisville Avenue as part of a complete streets pilot project this summer.