| Update to:
Royal York Rd. Report falls 20cm short of recommending bicycle Lane Posted: Apr-25-05
At the April 27th meeting of the Works Committee the first item on the agenda was the reconstruction of Royal York Road. At issue was the width of the road which would determine whether or not there would be bike lanes on this section of Royal York Road from Mimico Creek to Usher avenue. Councillor Peter Milczyn - Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore , the councillor for the area, spoke first to the committee. This was the penultimate step in his long campaign to keep bike lanes off this section of Royal York Road. Residents who had hoped that the Works committee would stand up for integrity of the Bikeway Network and the principles of the Toronto Bike Plan would end up disappointed.
Councillor Milczyn argued for a width of 9.1 metres, which would preclude bike lanes. This option was not one of the designs that was studied by UMA, an engineering company hired to evaluate several different road designs. That study looked at the impact of the various road designs on cyclist safety, pedestrian safety, emergency vehicle access, preservation of trees, traffic operation and other issues. The study found that a width of 9.6 metres was the option that balanced all of these needs and was the highest rated option. Another width that was studied was the 9.4 metre option that was ultimately recommended by City of Toronto Transportation Staff. The Milczyn option of 9.1 metres was not evaluated in the process and was not rated so there was no way for the Councillors on the Committee to evaluate the claims made by Peter Milczyn that his road design would address all of these needs. He claimed that a "9.1 metre width allows for the safety of all road users including cyclists." but he had no engineering study to back that up. He argued that the 9.1 metre design would "protect the tree canopy of Royal York Road" in spite of the fact that his design had not been evaluated as part of the design process and that staff had indicated that the Milczyn design would result in the same number of trees being removed. Peter Milczyn's road design was also not evaluated for any of the other impacts. The UMA study stated that 9.4 meter option was seen as the mimimum width that could give emergency vehicle access. Councillor Milczyn's road design was not evaluated in this regard. Councilor Milczyn presented his design as the community supported alternative and pointed to the letters received by the committee, a good proportion of which showed they had been copied from his Councillor letterhead.
Once Councillor Milczyn spoke he was followed by a resident of Royal York road and a supporter of Milczyn's design, Guy Giorno. You may remember him as a key advisor to Mike Harris when he was in government. Mr. Giorno spoke about his concern for the trees and he echoed Milczyn's claim that the 9.1 metre design would be safe for cyclists. He supported his claim by stating that "I am a bicycler (sic) myself". Mr. Giorno was followed by several deputants arguing either for the 9.1 m Milcyn design or the 9.6 metre option which would include bike lanes. There were local residents speaking on both sides of the issue.
Next the Councillors on the Works committee had their turn. Cyclists who had hoped that the members of the Works Committee had been swayed by the arguments in favour of the highest rated 9.6 metre design with a bicycle lane were soon disappointed. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker - Ward 38 Scarborough Centre, who was perceived to be a supporter of the Bike Plan made what he called a compromise motion that the road width be 9.1 with a 1.25 metre bike lane. City Staff said that a lane of that width could not be marked as a bike lane nor stenciled with the bike lane pavement marking since it is below the 1.5 metre minimum width for bike lanes. In spite of this the Councillors persisted, Councillor Paula Fletcher - Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth suggested that if it can't be called a bike lane it could be called a bike zone. So, now we had Milczyn's unrated design being augmented by new fanciful cycling infrastructure. At some point councillors realized that they were out of their area of expertise and asked Staff to report on whether or not this edge line would be acceptable. Their request was as follows.
(a) the Acting General Manager, Transportation Services to report to the Toronto Cycling Committee and the Works Committee on: There was also a clause added to the motion regarding other bike lanes in Ward 5.
(i) the inclusion of a 1.25 metre signed bike route, identified by an edge line, on each side of Royal York Road between Mimico Creek and Usher Avenue within the recommended 9.1 metre pavement width; and (b) the City Solicitor to report to the Toronto Cycling Committee and the Works Committee on the legalities and the risk factors if the City marks the edge line on Royal York Road below the standard for bicycle lanes;
(ii) since the City is encouraging cyclists to use Royal York Road, whether marking the road would provide a higher level of protection for cyclists than no marking;
(c) the Acting General Manager, Transportation Services to report to the Etobicoke York Community Council for its meeting on May 3, 2005, with a request that they report to Council on May 17, 2005, on the implementation of bicycle lanes on Stephen Drive and Norseman Road, west of Royal York Road, during reconstruction in 2006; and that this matter be considered with the Royal York Road reconstruction project.
Perhaps this was part of the trade off that had been worked out among the Councillors to win support for removing bike lanes from the plan for Royal York road. It isn't much of a trade off. The bike lanes mentioned do nothing to help make a north south route in this part of Toronto and furthermore this is not a guarantee that they will be constructed only that they will be considered. You would hope that the Councillors who traded their votes got more than that. If you are going to sell your soul for beans they better be magic beans.
Once the impromptu amateur road engineering was done, the Councillors turned to voting on the Milczyn design. Much to the dismay of the supporters of the Bike Plan all the councillors on the committee, Councillor Jane Pitfield (Chair), Councillor Sandra Bussin (Vice Chair), Councillor Bas Balkissoon, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, Councillor Mike Del Grande, Councillor Paula Fletcher, Councillor Adam Giambrone and Councillor Michael Thompson all fell in line behind Milczyn's design.
This issue went to the Works Committee and not the local Community Council because the impact of the decision is wider than the local community. The Councillors had the responsibility to weigh the impact of the road design on the members of the community and the needs of city as a whole. Works Committee has an obligation uphold policies of the City of Toronto which includes the Toronto Bike Plan and the principles of safe road design. I don't think they did this in this case. If their decision is endorsed by City Council at its meeting on May 17th it will leave a 1.6 km gap in an important north south link in the Bikeway network.
Normally I would close an article like this encouraging you to contact your councillor or the Mayor, David Miller. I would say that your input makes a difference. In this case however, I don't feel it will make any difference. From what I saw at the Works Committee it was obvious that the deal has been made, the votes secured. Reversing this at City Council would require a Councillor to hold this issue for a vote. With many of the Toronto Bike Plan's strongest supporters seemingly in favour of this the question is which Councillor would lead this fight at Council. By all means e-mail the members of the Works Committee e-mail your Councillor, e-mail the Mayor to express your disappointment. Perhaps if enough of us do it will cause them to act differently the next time support is needed to further the goals of the Bike Plan. Martin Koob
|You need to get your facts straight and to stop posting inaccurate information. Your report of what I said to the Works Committee is utterly false.|
1. I never claimed to be a cyclist or, as you put it, a "bicycler." In fact, I said that I use the street as a pedestrian. Councillor de Baeremaeker asked me several times if I have experience riding on the road as a cyclist, and being passed by cars as a cyclist, and in each case I said no, that my perspective was as a pedestrian.
2. I was not a supporter of the 9.1 m width. If you were listening, then you would have heard me say that I favoured a road no wider than the current width, which is much less than 9.1 m. When asked by councillors about the two options in the report, I said that if I had to choose between 9.1 m and 9.4 m then I would of course prefer the former, but my position is that even narrower was better.
3. I don't think I "echoed Milczyn's claim that the 9.1 metre design would be safe for cyclists." I didn't say that at all. What I said was that, according to Chapter 4 of the City of Toronto Bike Plan, bike lanes are to be accommodated without widening minor arterial streets. Major arterials are to be widened, but minor arterials are not.
Basically, everything you reported about my presentation is false. You obviously were taking someone else's comments and attributing them to me. If you were inaccurate in this aspect of the report, it makes me wonder what other false information you are posting.
Posted by: Guy Giorno on 12-May-2005 at 11:48 pm