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Petition for Woodbine bike lanes removal hits 2,000 signatures

Mary-Margaret McMahon & Janet Davis were all smiles at the Sept. 9 celebration for the opening of Woodbine bike lanes . -GERRY BROWN ON TWITTER

Mary-Margaret McMahon & Janet Davis were all smiles at the Sept. 9 celebration for the opening of Woodbine bike lanes . -GERRY BROWN ON TWITTER

\ BY GARY WEBB-PROCTOR \

An online petition started the evening of September 18 urging Toronto Mayor John Tory to intervene to remove the just-installed bike lanes that run the entire length of Woodbine Avenue has surpassed 2,000 “signatures” acquired after just over 40 hours.

Started by local resident Sheryl Dee, the petition, known as “Remove Woodbine Avenue Bike Lanes” on the www.change.org website, had collected 1,880 supporters* by noon today and has continued to garner more at a rate of nearly one per minute for much of the day, topping 2,000 shortly after 2 p.m.

(*“Supporters” of petitions on change.org do not have to provide an address and can endorse a topic by using a Facebook account, so names and authenticity of “signers” cannot be verified.)

The petition will also be delivered to Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, in whose ward the southern portion of the lanes run, an introduction indicates.

But no mention is made of Ward 31 Councillor Janet Davis, who ward encompasses the northern portion of the lanes, suggesting the more intense opposition is to the lanes that run south from Danforth Ave. to Queen Street East.

Most of those comments posted by respondents on the petition’s Comments section were critical of how the lanes are designed rather than expressing opposition to the existence of bike lanes per se.  That echoes comments also made in various local social media groups over the past several weeks since the lanes were opened.

The traffic has been so intense on some Facebook group sites, such as the Danforth & Woodbine Community Group, which has nearly 8,200 members, that the moderator, Michael Rusek, felt compelled to launch an offshoot group devoted to the issue of the Woodbine bike corridor and proposed lanes for Danforth Avenue:  the Danforth & Woodbine Bicycle Lanes Discussion Group.

Many critiques in the social media groups and in petition comments have focused on the way parking is arranged between the bike lane and the active automobile lane and only on one side of the street.  Another concern commonly expressed is about potential difficulties accommodating emergency vehicles by providing an area for traffic to pull over and how service vehicles such as buses and garbage trucks would be able to function without blocking either the one traffic lane or encroaching on the parking and.or bike lanes.

Residents of neighbourhood streets near or intersecting with Woodbine also expressed anger that cars seeking to avoid delays in the backed up single traffic lanes now available on Woodbine were encroaching onto nearby residential streets for a “short cut.”  In many cases frustrated drivers were driving at speeds in excess of what is safe for residents, particularly children, some have reported.

The petition itself states that “We see many cars diverting to residential side streets in order to find quicker routes. These routes are travelled by children walking to school and the increased traffic will make it less safe for them to walk home.”

Morning calls requesting an interview to the offices of Ms. McMahon and Ms. Davis had not been returned prior to publication.  However, Councillor Davis, appearing live on a noon-hour interview show on 740AM radio told the audience that “there are going to have to be changes in the way people use the road,” because of the new configuration.

“People will just have to adjust to it,” she said in concluding her remarks.

 

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