A detour for the Harmer Footbridge project?

There’s a consultation tonight about the Harmer Avenue Pedestrian and Bicycle overpass. The current overpass is pretty old, so they’re going to replace it. Apparently, it’ll be closed for two years and there’s talk of a detour along Holland Avenue. Below is a message I sent to the local councillor and the city staffer. Figured I’d post it her, because, y’know, #content.

You’re totally welcome to steal it, in whole or in part, to send along to city officials, if you want to.

Travelling from the east (the Glebe) to get to the Churchill/Dovercourt/McKellar Park area, my only safe route is to cross at the 417 at Harmer. There is no other connection that doesn’t either force me to mingle with speeding cars or take the sidewalk. Neither of which is ideal. (And, currently, in the winter, I still have to do that.)

I see from the notice that the city is planning a detour along Holland. I am glad to that the city is thinking of this. But I have two questions:

1. Will this be a separated, protected, winter-maintained detour for bicyclists? If it fails on any of those (if it’s just a painted bike lane, sharrows or just Detour signs), then it is not, in fact, a real detour.

2. Will the city be expecting people coming from the east/south, taking the detour north along Holland, to travel all the way up to Byron to continue east, or will there be some sort of cut-through at Fisher Park H.S. just north of the Queensway? Because Byron would be a ridiculously long detour (especially as I am already forced to go far north just to get east-west along Carling).

I have a few suggestions as to what the city should do in this situation. All of these are well-suited to be permanent features for proper non-car transportation:

– Build another bridge connecting Kenilworth and Geneva. Yeah, I know the city will complain about the cost, but we maintain a ton of car overpasses, a second bike/ped one isn’t unreasonable. Seriously. Delay the current project. Build this new bridge. Then get back to this project.

– Put protected bike lanes on Island Park Drive. They should be there anyway. Paint is never sufficient. Bollards and concrete are necessary.

– Ensure the bike path through Hampton Park is winter-maintained. You can’t just close off the only winter-maintained route without providing other options when it snows.

– Hampton Park connects with Dovercourt, but Dovercourt doesn’t have lights at Kirkwood. Put some in. Or a pedestrian crossover. Whatever. Anything that will force cars not kill me when I’m trying to get to work. (And, no, the lights half a block away are not sufficient. The city is already messing with established bike routes. Proper, convenient crossings are needed.)

– Put protected bike lanes on Carling Avenue. It’s a traffic sewer. It’s an urban freeway. It’s a dangerous stroad. In parts, it’s 8 car lanes wide and has a median. There’s absolutely no reason not to give more space to bikes. Oh, and you need to plow this in winter, whenever it snows. We don’t ignore cars in winter, other people deserve similar consideration.

The new Harmer Bridge is clearly a needed project. The current bridge is old. However, it is shameful that the city has done absolutely nothing else to facilitate non-car transportation in this general area.

Further, it will be even more shameful if the city is to close this vital route for over two years without proper, protected, year-round alternatives that don’t treat bicyclists and pedestrians as lower classes in our transportation caste system.

It is at this point that I’ll point out that we won’t close the Queensway for more than a weekend for a bridge replacement, but non-drivers get to suffer for two full rotations around the sun.

You may detect a note of anger in this message, and I do apologize if I seem unnecessarily hostile. However, the city does not take my or my family’s safety–our very lives–seriously. It is incredibly hard to get around this city without endangering myself. I go far out of my way in order to live my life without unnecessary danger. With this as my daily experience, I am incredibly skeptical of planned detours.

Perhaps this is unfair. But I have drivers threatening me and bullying me every single day. My skepticism is well-earned.

One thing I forgot to mention in my letter: if there is no appropriate detour provided, I will be unapologetically riding on the sidewalk as much as I damned well need to. 

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