Accessibility advocates speak out against mixing cycling and drop-off space
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Monday, December 12, 2016 2:44PM EST
A group of accessibility advocates is speaking out against a city staff report recommending that accessible vehicles be allowed to stop in designated bike lanes and cycle tracks.
“This will effectively mean the bike lanes will become parking lanes, disabling the bike infrastructure all over the city. I want council to reject this recommendation,” accessibility advocate Adam Cohoon said at a news conference Monday.
He said the proposal would also lead to animosity between cyclists and accessible users.
“This proposal will just activate more conflict,” Cohoon said “The route to less conflict among road users like myself is to not allow parking in bike lanes.”
Burns Wattie, who drives a wheelchair van to accommodate his son who has a disability, also spoke out against the proposal.
“My presence in the bicycle lane creates an extremely dangerous situation of forcing cyclists into the travel lane of the road on a road where drivers no longer expect to see and encounter cyclists,” he said.
The issue arose as part of a review that was requested last year by Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam. She asked that staff take a look at the Sherbourne Street and Wellesley Street cycle tracks in terms of accessibility, parking and other concerns.
Reporting back on the issue Nov. 3, city staff recommended fixing some of the issues around accessible drop-offs by allowing an exemption for vehicles with accessible parking permits to pick up and drop off passengers in bike lanes.
The report goes to city council tomorrow and could have implications for how planners approach road space in other parts of the city as Toronto moves to establish a set of bikeway design guidelines, due sometime next year.
However accessibility advocates say that they weren’t consulted about the proposal and they don’t think it’s a good idea.
“There are options that the city could conceivably have chosen that they didn’t even look at,” Maureen Coyle of Walk Toronto told CP24 in an interview. “Our main problem with this particular recommendation before council this week is that they didn’t consult with the community, with the accessibility advocates, with the cycling advocates or the pedestrian advocates.”
She said that while the solutions may not be simple, they must be developed “in a way that is respectful of all users of the road.”
Wong-Tam’s office told CP24 Monday that she will ask city staff to examine other options for integrating accessibility solutions with the road design.