Toronto transportation staff will look at ways to educate cyclists about the dangers of streetcar tracks, but the city’s works committee balked at a proposal to remove several kilometres of out-of-service tracks in locations around the city.
The committee was looking at the issue of cyclists and streetcar tracks, in part in reaction to the death of a cyclist who caught his tire in streetcar tracks on Wychwood Avenue, off St. Clair Avenue West in August.
The cyclist died when he struck his head after falling off his bike.
The tracks on Wychwood were out of commission and local councillors and cycling advocates said it made sense to fill in or remove the tracks to prevent future accidents. In total, there are 3.5 kilometres of disused streetcar tracks throughout Toronto.
Trinity-Spadina Councillor Mike Layton moved the recommendations to simply report on filling it in.
“We know what a problem this is,” he said. “You know that certain care needs to be taken on streetcar tracks. And sometimes it’s dark, there’s water covering the track, and sometimes a car is parked in the wrong place. It can result in tragic circumstances.”
St. Paul’s Councillor Joe Mihevc, who not only represents the area where the cyclist was killed, but actually knew the man from the time he was a child, made an impassioned plea to fill in the unused tracks.
But other members of the committee were unwilling to go that far. The committee did recommend a safety strategy that would include better pavement markings and a public education campaign to teach cyclists how better to navigate the hazards. And that, said some, should be enough.
Don Valley West Councillor John Parker said streetcar tracks are just one of the hazards facing cyclists, and shouldn’t be blown out of proportion in terms of their risk.
“As a cyclist I know where to look for streetcar tracks and how to avoid them, but potholes are a matter of surprise every time I go out,” he said. “If I thought resources were being distracted from potholes to tear up streetcar tracks in areas that don’t get a lot of cycling traffic and where they’re self-evident, that might not be the best use of resources.”