Bike lanes eyed as loading zones for those aiding the disabled
Recommendation comes out of a review of the Sherbourne St. cycle track, where bike traffic has nearly tripled.
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
The city wants to make it legal for drivers with accessible parking permits to stop in separated bike lanes, as long as they’re “loading or unloading” a person with a disability.
The recommendation is in a report going before the public works committee Monday. The document notes that according to city bylaws, only Wheel-Trans vehicles are currently allowed to stop in physically separated bike lanes. “This is an impediment to those with accessible permits who require barrier-free mobility from a private vehicle,” it says.
It’s already legal for drivers to stop in painted bike lanes so long as they’re “actively engaged” in picking up or dropping off someone with a disability, but the rule doesn’t apply to physically separated lanes (also called cycle tracks). Stopping illegally in a bike lane or cycle track carries a fine of $150.
Ian Parker, a senior adviser for the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto, said he supports the proposed bylaw change.
“I think that there would be many circumstances where a passenger with a disability might not be able to get to the door of where they’re going if they can’t be let off nearby,” said Parker, who is both a wheelchair user and a driver.
Parker drives a van outfitted with an accessibility ramp that deploys onto the sidewalk. He said that as the city has installed more bike lanes it has become more difficult to find places where he’s able to park.
“I know everybody has a right to be accommodated on the street. We have to work together and work it out,” he said. “For some of us, (driving) is the only way to get around.”
Councillor Mike Layton, a strong proponent of cycling infrastructure, said that “it’s not ideal” to have anything blocking a bike lane, but didn’t say he would oppose the bylaw change.
“The last thing we would want to do by building a bike lane, is to make (the street) unsafe for someone else,” said Layton, who represents Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina, and sits on the city’s disability advisory committee. “Ideally what we’re trying to do is make it safe for all people that are using the roadway to get to their destination safely.”
Layton said the best thing to do would be to design cycle tracks that would allow passengers with disabilities to disembark from cars without encroaching on the cycle track.
For a driver to be eligible for an accessible parking permit, a doctor must certify to the provincial government that the applicant suffers from at least one condition from a provided list. The permits exempt holders from some parking rules. According to the ministry of government and consumer services, there are 120,266 active accessible parking permits in Toronto.
The recommendation to change the bike-lane bylaw comes out of a review of the Sherbourne St. cycle track, which was installed between 2012 and 2015, and was Toronto’s first separated bike lane.
The report says that accessibility considerations were incorporated into the cycle track’s original design. Due to a high number of health clinics and seniors’ residences on Sherbourne, there are 1,100 Wheel-Trans stops per month on the street.
The cycle track includes seven lay-bys for loading and unloading, tactile pavers for the visually impaired, and mountable curbs to allow vehicles to drive onto the lanes when necessary. In response to concerns about safety and accessibility, however, transportation staff have tweaked the configuration of the lane by adding bollards at some locations and removing them at others.
According to the report, since the lane was installed, the volume of cyclists on Sherbourne has almost tripled, from about 1,200 to 3,500 a day. Meanwhile, the rate of cyclist collisions on the street fell from 14 crashes per 1,000 riders to only 5 per 1,000 riders.
Transportation staffers say they will incorporate lessons from Sherbourne, as well as the dedicated bike lane on Wellesley St., into new on-street bikeway guidelines that they’re developing. The guidelines are expected to be completed in the fall of 2017, and will outline design standards for cycling infrastructure as the city builds out its bike network under the new 10-year cycling plan council approved in June.