The ongoing saga of the Fifth Avenue bike lane

All right. I’m not linking to the old posts, do a quick search and you should find them. For those of you who have been following along, bike lanes…well a bike lane…well, kinda half a bike lane…has been put in on Fifth Avenue. It’s welcome, but I was a little concerned about the state of it.

The bike lane is only on the eastbound side of the road. It goes from just before Bank Street to the driveway (well, there’s a little blip at the O’Connor intersection, but we’ll ignore that). So it kind of connects with something on the east end, but connects with nothing on the west.

In addition, there is a short bike lane (a few car lengths) going westbound as you approach Bank Street. It’s to allow bikes to get past a line up of left-turning cars (I assume), since there’s no longer a dedicated left turn lane on Fifth (good).

So far, so…good?…ok?…meh?

Anyway, I’m supportive of this half measure, as long as we’re doing it right. This bike lane is basically nothing, right now. It’s a line of paint. There are no protections, no advance lights, nothing like that. So I contacted my councillor’s office asking about it. Here are the things I’d like to see at the Fifth Avenue intersection (I focused solely on that because there are only so many battles to be fought at once):

  1. Moving the stop lines for cars back.
  2. A bike box at the intersection for left-turning bicyclists.
  3. A bollard or some sort of barrier to keep cars out of the bike lanes.
  4. No rights on reds.
  5. And advance light for bicyclists (and pedestrians).

My councillor’s staffer contacted the city staffer in charge of this, here’s what I got:

The implementation of the final plans for this intersection have not been completed yet. There are plans for bike boxes in both the eastbound and westbound directions – which would also encompass the stop bars for vehicles being further back (points 2 & 3 below). This requires the implementation of thermoplastic green paint, which is completed through a different operation than the implementation of the ‘regular white lines’. I don’t have the exact timelines for when City crews will be completing this intersection – but it is ‘in progress’.

As for the residents request for flexible posts, I would recommend waiting until the final pavement markings have been fully established and then the City can observe actual operations to determine if flexible stakes are justified or not. The bike lanes are new and it is expected that there will be some ‘adjustments’ from all modes until everyone is used to the new configurations. It should be noted that the Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling Plan project does not have any budget for the implementation of flexible posts.

It’s worth noting that the City has been having some issues with road paint for several reasons, which might affect the timeline of implementing these bike lanes. Not through budget, but just the sheer amount of work on Roads’ plate.

Also worth noting is that flex stakes might be denied outright by Staff should their locations be determined to be out of line with City requirements for placement.

(Honestly, I don’t know if all that is from the city staffer or if the last paragraph or two are from the councillor staffer.)

Okay, so we are promised that the stop line will be moved back. That’s good. And there should be a bike box coming, also good. The issue about paint is understood–though they were able to re-paint the rest of the intersection (and a few days ago painted useless dangerous sharrows down Fifth towards Bronson), so I’m not sure why they couldn’t have done the stop line at the same time.

So this is a positive thing, poorly-planned. I get that. I’ll take it…for now.

The rest of it is absolute bullshit.

We’re going to take a wait-and-see approach to keeping cars out of bike lanes? Does the city staffer ever actually use our fucking streets? Paint does not deter drivers. Hell, sidewalk curbs don’t deter drivers. Yes, some drivers (maybe most?) will abide by the lines, but it only takes one driver to seriously injure or kill you.

It is despicable that the city uses our lives as a behaviour modification experiment for drivers. An experiment that has failed over and over and over again.

And all this bullshit about the budget for the “Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling Plan” (which is a total piece of crap plan)? We don’t have to have special, meager budgets for driving infrastructure, but bicyclists can suck it, I guess.

(By the way, I looked. I can buy a flexipost for about $200 US. I’m willing to do it. Maybe we could take a few hundred from the Christmas miracle budget surplus to pay a guy to install it.)

And, really, “flex stakes might be denied outright by Staff should their locations be determined to be out of line with City requirements for placement”. What the hell is that.

You know where flexiposts should be required, beside bike lanes because drivers just can’t fucking stop driving in them. I don’t give a shit about stupid bureaucratic rules. I give a shit about not being run over by a selfish, incompetent, negligent driver.

By the way, you’ll notice the staffer didn’t address the no-right-on-red or advance light.


I responded back, thanking the staffer for the information (he really did tackle this quickly). I noted that the last two requests were ignored by the staffer, but assumed that since we won’t buy a flexipost, we won’t pay for a sign or new light. (I was always willing to wait a little longer for the light.)

I did have one other question. Putting aside all the questions of what we will do or can do or can afford to do, I asked him, “what does the councillor think of this? If it were up to him, how would he have the intersection and bike lanes constructed?”

And, to his credit, Councillor Chernushenko responded…but that will be the subject of a future post.

One thought on “The ongoing saga of the Fifth Avenue bike lane

  1. Pingback: The councillor weighs in on the Fifth Avenue bike lane | Steps from the Canal

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