Following a spate of cyclist deaths in Toronto, a group of journalists decided to do some investigative reporting. What would happen, they wondered, if they were to set up a camera and observe one of the city’s most frequently traveled bike routes during the busiest times of day? The results were surprising.
Staking Out a Cycling Hotspot
In Toronto, the Richmond cycle track serves as a main thoroughfare for commuters and recreational cyclists alike. Since it was installed, bicycle traffic has increased 600 per cent and collision rates have decreased. In the last decade, there have been no reports of serious injuries or bicycle-related deaths. Unfortunately, based on the findings uncovered during the observation period, by no means does this indicate that cyclists should feel safe.
Creating a Safe Space
The Richmond cycle track runs parallel to one-way traffic but is separated from motor vehicles by large planters and posts. The surface of the track is painted green in an effort to distinguish it from the road. At several points, including right-hand turns, bicycles and cars share the track.
Despite the efforts made by the city to create a safe cycling space, the journalists noted that drivers and riders seemed to experience a shared sense of confusion when it came to navigating the track. From stopping where they shouldn’t have to encroach on each other’s space, there were problems abound, many of them dangerous. The general consensus appeared to be that many of the perceived benefits of the cycle track were canceled out by its confusing nature.
What Still Needs to be Done
One of the key issues that may need to be tackled when working to protect cyclists is consistency, or in this case, lack thereof. The City of Toronto’s push towards safe cycling zones is a start but because the infrastructure is fragmented, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike find themselves unsure as to how to proceed. According to an industry expert, intuitiveness is crucial. From better signage to increased funding for more safety measures, there is still a lot of work to be done.