Cyclists are annoyed by the temporary removal of a hard-won east-west route downtown, between Duncan and John Sts.
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Toronto, Ontario - APRIL 29, 2015 A section of the Richmond St. cycle track was closed off Tuesday after Bell Media was issued a film permit to block the bike lane.
By:Ben SpurrStaff Reporter,Published on Wed Apr 29 2015
The Richmond St. cycle track was temporarily turned into a parking lot on Wednesday, frustrating the city’s biking advocates who say that not enough is done to protect their space on the road.
Open policard for CouncillorJoe Cressy
A block-long section of the separated bike lane between Duncan and John Streets was dismantled Tuesday evening, allowing Bell Media vehicles to park on the north side of Richmond. Starting Thursday the company is hosting a two-day Women’s World Cup event in the parking lot of its Queen St. Wheadquarters, and it obtained a permit from the city’s film office to close the bike lane until Monday to film the event.
Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto, said the closure is evidence that bike infrastructure isn’t “being taken seriously enough” by the city. He called the disruption “unsafe.”
“We should not be issuing film permits that block cycle tracks,” he said. “Cyclists are having to risk their safety to veer into traffic.”
Cressy said he was working with city staff to have Bell remove parked vehicles from the lane, although the company would still be allowed to use it for loading and unloading during the event.
A Bell Media spokesperson confirmed Wednesday afternoon that it was relocating its vehicles, but said some may have to use the cycle track before the permit expires Monday.
“We are working with the Film & Television Office to open the lane when not required by production vehicles. We apologize for any inconvenience this event may have caused,” the spokesperson said.
Asked whether the film office had considered cyclists’ safety before issuing the permit, Eric Jensen, the city’s film manager, wrote in an email: “Safety is always a concern.” He said signs were in place to advise cyclists to merge with traffic, and that bikes and cars frequently have to share the road.
The cycle track is part of a $390,000 pilot project of bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide installed last year, almost three years after getting council approval. Some riders using it Wednesday were frustrated that it was blocked off.
“I’m really mad,” said Paul, a doctor who commutes along Richmond every day. “They’ve taken away part of the safe route.”
Others weren’t bothered.
“I have no problem with that,” said Aaron Peyda. “It’s summertime, construction everywhere. That’s what you expect in Toronto.”