City responds after being called out over risk to public safety for parking

A section of Bloor Street West that runs through Toronto’s The Annex neighborhood is currently undergoing a road construction project, resulting in visible wear and disruptions. In addition to the expected noise, dust, and inconveniences brought about by the road closure, local residents and businesses have raised concerns about a significant portion of the roadway being utilized as a parking lot for contractors while the street’s popular separated bike lane is closed down — a move that has sparked frustration within the community.

The construction has necessitated the temporary shutdown of the northern half of the street. The closure has resulted in the abrupt blocking of a full lane of traffic as well as a bike lane, making way for the parking needs of city contractors.

The local Bloor Annex Business Improvement Area (BIA) has expressed their dissatisfaction with this arrangement, posting images of the street closure on social media and criticizing the City’s decision to prioritize contractor parking over the community’s requests. The BIA has also urged local authorities to reopen the shuttered bike lane and eliminate the on-street contractor parking.

Pointing to the ample width of Bloor Street West and the availability of nearby parking, the BIA contends that the convenience of contractors should not take precedence over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

The frustration has reached the attention of Mayor Olivia Chow, as the BIA directly called upon her to address the situation. This highlights the growing concern within the community regarding the allocation of infrastructure and the apparent lack of consideration for the safety of those who rely on alternative modes of transportation.

But, according to the city, there is insufficient space within this 800-meter-long construction area for a separate bike lane during construction, due to the location of the work on the street as well as the legislated layout of the work zone area including the use of defined safety barriers.

That being said, the contractors have been told that parking is for work-related vehicles only.

“Under the terms of the contract, parking within the work zone is permitted for work-related vehicles only and this has been reinforced with the City’s contractor,” read a statement from city staff. “Even if work-related vehicles were not permitted in the work zone, there would still not be enough space to maintain a separated bike lane during construction.”

According to the city, cyclists may choose to use the shared traffic lane (single file), dismount and walk their bike along the sidewalk or use the alternate cycling route. A map of the alternate cycling route is available on the project website, www.toronto.ca/Bloorstreetconstruction, under the Construction Details accordion tab.

“Once this project is complete, the city will have made a number of improvements, including improved accessibility and safety for all road users,” the statement continued. “The improvements on Bloor Street West between Avenue Road and Spadina Avenue include road reconstruction, sidewalk replacement, accessibility upgrades, raised cycle tracks, a protected intersection at Bloor Street West and St. George Street, and new green infrastructure.”

Notable figures have joined the chorus of discontent including lawyer and cycling safety activist David Shellnutt who emphasized the prioritization of cars and construction in Toronto, often at the expense of the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. He criticized the current approach, stating that safety considerations for vulnerable road users seem to be secondary to development.

Originally posted 2023-08-11 12:43:24.


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