Cyclists deserve protection during construction too.

tornto intersection
CC BY 2.0 Bathurst and St. Clair, Toronto/ Lloyd Alter

In Toronto where I live, there is construction everywhere. Under the rules, there has to be protection for pedestrians. But what about cyclists? I have complained before how no provision is made, and how bike lanes are used for construction trailer parking while cyclists are told to dismount and do whatever, they don't say. In other cases there are no bike lanes and cyclists have to merge with traffic.

Copenhagen bike diversionLloyd Alter/ Copenhagen bike route protection/CC BY 2.0

I have pointed out that the situation is very different in Copenhagen, where I have seen elaborate provisions for cycling safety, including putting the construction trailers up on stilts so that there is room to go under them.

St. Clair Avenue West is a complicated street in Toronto. It has a wonderful dedicated streetcar right of way, which put pressure on the sidewalk and the driving lanes when it was designed. But even when there is on street parking, there is enough room left over to cycle relatively safely. At one point the streetcars dive down to meet the subway station, and they are building a new condo here. So suddenly cyclists lose their little strip alongside the parked cars and are forced into a single lane with cars. There is a rail and a wall to the left, and cement mixers and workers cars to the right. One narrow lane for everyone.

This is really scary. It is hard to get off and walk the bike, because there are so many people in the narrow pedestrian space under the scaffolding (this is a major intersection) that you couldn't push your bike through. So I wait for a break and jump in, hoping that the cars coming behind will respect my right to be there instead of honking or hitting me. I have done this half a dozen times now and it is frightening every time.

As soon as I got to where I was going today I went to tweet about this this, and what pops up but Mikael Colville-Andersen, tweeting about how they protect cyclists during construction in Copenhagen. And I thought, if they can do it, why can't North American cities?

The situation in Toronto is dangerous and should not be allowed. It's simple; tell the builders that they have to provide safe passage for cyclists as well as pedestrians, or they have to pull their buildings back far enough so that they can load their damn concrete on their own property. If they had to do that, they would figure this out quickly enough.

bike under trucktwitter/via

I would love to see the breakdown of how many cyclist death and injuries are caused by the construction industry, either directly by squishing cyclists or indirectly by screwing up roads. Cement trucks have to move fast because the stuff will harden if they don't get it there; (see Ottawa here) dump trucks are huge and have poor visibility- I lost a rowing buddy to a right hook from a construction vehicle. In London, British architects demand construction industry take responsibility for cyclists' deaths. It's time North American architects demanded the same thing.

Cyclists deserve protection during construction too.
In booming cities the first thing to go is the space for bikes. This is unfair and dangerous.

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