Dead right? New city bike lane design allows for hearse parking outside church
Critic says the design at Bathurst and Adelaide pits the safety of some over the convenience of others.
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
A new turning lane and traffic light dedicated to bikes shows cycling is alive and well in Toronto. But a lack of curb to keep cars out has some critics questioning the design.
The driving force? Hearses.
The $550,000 project at Bathurst and Adelaide Sts. sits directly in front of St. Mary's Church, which has hosted funerals for more than a century.
Consultations with the church and the cycling community led to the concession, in part to allow hearses to park out front.
"It’s a pretty understandable consideration that we’re making, given that it’s a church and it holds funerals," Coun. Mike Layton told Metro, adding the compromise upholds the site's existing use while providing "significant" protection for bikes.
The open design also accommodates the large volume of bikes that can collect at the intersection, he said. (More than 500 riders clock through the spot during morning rush hour.)
Though the church has other entrances and a parking lot, Layton said other buildings and additions constructed over the years don't allow for a direct route to the sanctuary.
"It really wasn’t feasible or realistic to think that people would walk out the front door with a casket and walk it around the building," he said.
Cyclist Hanno Rein told Metro in an email that the decision pits the safety of some over the convenience of others and shows a lack of commitment to the city's Vision Zero roady safety goals. It's a conflict he sees repeated in other areas, such as reducing speed limits, narrowing lanes and installing more pedestrian crossings.
"If the politicians of this city continue to run on platforms that focus on speeding up cars that move through our city, we'll need a lot more hearses in the future," he said.
Parked cars, including limos and hearses, have been spotted in the lane since it opened, prompting calls on Twitter to review the design.
"Classic Toronto: almost good, but not quite," wrote @robmclarty.
"This is too common and why infrastructure can’t depend on the goodwill of drivers or 9-5 enforcement," wrote @awkwartunity.
Hearses have been spotted in bike lanes elsewhere in the city. Just last week Twitter user @matthewdvm sent out a photo of such a scene in the Sherbourne bike lanes.
Toronto police generally use their discretion when it comes to ticketing funeral vehicles, according to a traffic services officer.
St. Mary's declined to comment when reached by phone, but the church website published a brief statement ahead of the lane's opening that read, in part: "Our hope is that cyclists have a safer commute by utilizing the new lanes and respecting the parish property."
Calling the change a "major improvement," Layton said the compromise helps preserve the city's heritage.
"(The church) has been there longer than all of us," he said. "It will be there longer than all of us."