I am an obedient cyclist. I walk my bike when the sign says to. I do not pass on the right a queue of stopped cars. I stay off sidewalks.
Some of the time.
My intentions are good.
When I remember.
In practice, this can be dangerous. Out near Westboro Station, there is a “detour” sign * on the Scott Street MUP (bike path, to layfolks) so I dutifully switch over to the painted bike lane on the north edge of Scott, which I rarely use otherwise.
I was following behind (not too closely) an attractive cyclist of another gender and age, when she yelped and swerved out into the general vehicle traffic lane. Fortunately for her (and me) there were no overtaking cars or buses at that moment.
The cause? A vehicle door opening.
Alas, the painted bike lane is painted 1 – 2′ feet inboard of the asphalt edge, but motorists park awfully close to the bike lane:
As shown above and below, there is parallel parking and some vehicles park at an angle, which reduces the dooring hazard but increases the backing up hazard:
(above) Squeezing a big blue truck into the too-small space between the utility post and the bike lane means the cyclist loses their space. But maybe that’s OK because the truck driver got their free parking space.
(below) the car parked not-quite-off the bike lane actually had a few acres of space to his right, but you see there was a puddle in the gravel and he might get his tires wet. There’s still plenty of space for sissy cyclists to go by:
Parking here is popular enough to wear away all the grass and pack the soil down to near-cement status.
So, why are all those vehicles parked there?
I presume a bunch of the parkers are construction workers from the nearby CS Co-Op buildings on McRae. But as it is free parking, when those workers go on to the next project, they will be replaced by office workers at the site. Why not, free parking, right some close to the office. Closer even than the Transit Station.
And when the present gray brick building is built out, there will be another one.
The Trail Head post-and-beam building is gonna take a hike someday soon (the contents are moving to Fairlawn Plaza, a box plaza at Woodroffe / Fairlawn).
And there is a mid or high rise project coming on the west side of McRae someday soon, once someone decides how many floors can be built. And then there are the first bunch of apartments at the President’s Choice Retirement Project on Richmond Road. And so on.
And when the transitway is being converted to LRT rail, those workers will be parking somewhere nearby too.
There will always be construction projects.
So what can we do about it?
First, we can ask if we value the green space along the MUP, or consider it expendable. We are talking of a balance of interests here.
If expendable, and parking is the preferred use, can we bound the parking area on its north edge to prevent more “creep” of vehicles into the ever-diminishing greenery zone? Wood posts or precast curbs would do the trick. If we go all out, poured curbs with asphalt parking bays. Like in front of Trail Head or the Buddist Centre now.
Parking could be behind or in front of the cycle lane. I’ll let the experts ponder that.
Beyond the new curb, add some topsoil and grass seed. Maybe even a tree, but not one that will thrive or grow large. We don’t want to be too innovative here.
And to pay for it all, and perhaps make a profit, please install parking meters. At least $5 per day, please and thanks.
And maybe make the zone “by permit only” for construction workers to keep those pesky bankers and Farm Boy clerks from driving to free parking (see, equal non-parking for the 99% and the 1%).
Of course, something will only happen if the City hears complaints. So let the councillor know if you think this is an issue that needs resolution.
* And as for that detour sign that caused the diversion onto the bike lane in the first place, I’ve concluded that like many construction zone signs there actually is no construction going on. The signs are just random artefacts put out and forgotten, for our entertainment. I’ll stick to the MUP from now on.