Split cycling lanes on Dundas and Queens rile cyclists, business owner

A plan to split protected cycling lanes between two streets in London’s Old East Village isn’t sitting well with cyclists – or a Dundas Street business owner who hoped to benefit from the bike traffic.

The proposal for an east-west bike corridor, unveiled by city staff at a public meeting, includes a protected lane for eastbound cyclists on Dundas Street through Old East Village, with the westbound lane a block north on Queens Avenue - writes lfpress.com

It’s the next phase of a battle over the appropriate design for London’s cycling infrastructure, and good news for cyclists who lobbied city hall for protected lanes that put a barrier between bikes and vehicles.

But those riders are less pleased with the divided east-west routes.

Old East Village Grocer assistant manager Paul Seale, who is also a cyclist, said he’s worried customers will be diverted away from Dundas Street retailers if they’re cycling on Queens during business hours.

“A nice intuitive two-way cycle track on Dundas Street, where the destinations already are, might change that behaviour. It allows people to experience a wide range of shopping and entertainment options they might not have known at all,” he said.

The proposed one-way bike lanes on Dundas and Queens would meet back up at William Street, where the protected lanes would continue, both east and westbound, on Dundas Street to the fork of the Thames River.

“A one-way route is at risk of being misused, especially in a neighbourhood where we’re already seeing bikes on sidewalks, for example,” Seale said. “It’s really important we try to make the area work for all users.”

But that’s just the problem, city staff say.

City hall’s transportation boss Doug MacRae said the proposal is the best attempt to balance the many needs in that stretch of Dundas Street, including cycle lanes, large sidewalks to attract pedestrians and allow businesses to “spill out” with patios and merchandise, vehicle lanes, and on-street parking.

“It comes down to space,” he said.

“It’s trying to create space for all users. That’s a unique corridor through the Old East Village. We like to think of corridors like that, they’re as much transportation corridor as they are public space.”

Cycling advocate Shelley Carr said there are options to make room for two-directional cycle lanes on Dundas Street, including shrinking landscaping, like trees, at certain points or removing some on-street parking.

The one-way lane on Dundas won’t be effective, she argued.

“It’s not how humans think and act. As soon as you put in one lane, you’re going to have people going down the wrong way,” Carr said. “No one will pay any attention to the Queens stretch, and if they don’t feel safe, they’ll just go down the sidewalk where the patios are supposed to go.”

The east-west bike corridor is part of a larger effort, the Old East Village Secondary Plan, to grow and enhance the area.

And so far, that plan has been lauded by many residents and visitors to the Old East Village.

Seale wants to make sure the bike corridor aligns with the rest of the plan, which he calls “thoughtful.”

“It looks thoughtful and a mostly forward-looking plan for the business corridor in the Old East Village, we just have concerns that some parts of it are undeveloped,” he said. “They might not take us into a new chapter.”

The proposed bike corridor with the divided lanes will go to council’s civic works committee in the new year.

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