News / Toronto

U of T research on Bloor bike lanes looks at near miss accidents

The study analyzes video footage of the area before and after the bike lanes were opened.

Matthew Roorda and Nancy Hui hope their research looking at near misses, not just crashes, will help the city evaluate the success of the Bloor Street bike lanes pilot.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Matthew Roorda and Nancy Hui hope their research looking at near misses, not just crashes, will help the city evaluate the success of the Bloor Street bike lanes pilot.

When the city evaluates the Bloor bike lane pilot this fall, they’ll be able to look not just at accidents but another crucial piece of the road safety puzzle.

Researchers at University of Toronto have partnered with Kitchener-based traffic analytics company Miovision to analyze video footage of “near misses” before and after the bike lanes were installed in August to get a more complete picture of what’s happening.

When you assess safety based on accidents alone, you’re not getting the full picture, said Matthew Roorda, a professor in civil engineering at the university’s Transportation Research Institute.

“There’s just not that many of them to help pinpoint problem areas," he said.

Miovision provided video footage and has the software to make analysis easier, said CEO Kurtis McBride.

There’s data on potentially dangerous situations — ranging from cars passing too closely to bikes to pedestrians jumping out in front of cyclists — from different locations all through the bike lanes, he added, making for a “much better statistical sample” than just looking at accidents.

Bike lanes along a 2.6-kilometre stretch of Bloor West between Shaw and Avenue opened last summer after years of planning and debate.

Torstar News Service

Bike lanes along a 2.6-kilometre stretch of Bloor West between Shaw and Avenue opened last summer after years of planning and debate.

The project looks at whether bike lanes have improved the safety of the street as well as if they have created any unintended danger zones.

Graduate student Nancy Hui said results will be shared with the city to contribute to the discussion on how to move forward with the pilot.

The project relates to a complete streets philosophy, which advocates for streets to be designed to be safe for all users not just drivers.

As a Torontonian who walks, takes public transit and sometimes drives, the research hits home for Hui.

“I really do feel that a street should be safe no matter what mode you choose,” she said. 

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