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  • Writer's pictureDave Shellnutt

Construction Hazards & Cycling: Adelaide St. West, Toronto

For at least a month we’ve been riding down Adelaide St. W in Toronto where the bike lane is being relocated to the other side of the road. It’s astonishing how confusing this process has been for cyclists.

After posting about an issue on Richmond St. our DMs exploded with community members sharing harrowing tales about their daily commutes and confusion on Adelaide.

We took our camera down last night to see what shape it was in now. A recent positive development is that several intersections have ‘bike lane closed’ and ‘share the road signs’ (these were MIA for weeks).

However, from Bathurst to Victoria (a huge cycling/transit corridor) an awful mess of construction, motor vehicle traffic and inconsistency ensue.

While the bike lane is being moved to the other side of the road, cyclists are not provided with much guidance, an alternate route, or a temporary bike lane. Yet, motorists are now able to park in both the old and new bike lanes, on either side of the road. All modes of transportation are thereby forced into 2 shared lanes.

That is, until construction forces them into 1 lane.

Adelaide should be a case study for the City of Toronto in juggling construction projects, increased traffic (from other closed corridors) and safe infrastructure. This is certainly a big and necessary job. According to the City, “the cycle track switch is bundled with watermain, streetcar and road resurfacing work” and “moving the cycle track to the north side will eliminate the conflicts between people cycling and turning trucks by removing the requirement for people cycling to merge with motor vehicle traffic”.

Removing conflicts is critical and we thank the City for their work. We ask that our long-term plans to address conflict do not inflame it in the short-term.

The City website has a good deal of useful information and sets out the timing of construction. Though sadly the York to Victoria bike lane relocation won’t happen until next spring. That is going to be some interesting winter riding…

Yet these well-laid plans and a helpful website do not necessarily provide the street level clarity that cyclists and other road users need.

Our firm represents many cyclists injured at or near constructions sites just like (and on) Adelaide. These injuries can be avoided.

Addressing current deficiencies can help with that:

  1. Non-existent or unclear signage: It remains very confusing to cycle down Adelaide. Now we have bike lane closure signs, but they are inconsistent. We also have parking everywhere. We need to borrow from jurisdictions that undertake large construction projects impacting a variety of road users. What do they use, let’s use that.

  2. Inconsistency in construction sites that litter Adelaide. Block to block we see varied practices. A project of this size requires routine inspection, perhaps on a weekly basis if that isn’t happening.

  3. Alternate routes – what outreach has been done to the cycling community to explore other route options or set up temporary bike lanes along this massive corridor?

This re-routing is important. With so much construction happening, we need to think about providing safe ways for VRUs to traverse our city.

Could King Street not be an option? Could the old bike lane not remain operational in whole or in part until the new bike lane is created?

There are still only 2 lanes of traffic (sometimes 1) with both the old and new bike lanes closed. The argument certainly can’t be that having one bike lane open while the other is being worked on somehow impedes motor vehicle traffic – that’s already happening.

Cycling friends, we’ve written about what to do in unsafe construction zones (read more here).

  1. Document it! - take pictures, video, write notes.

  2. Connect the dots – identify the construction company and the municipal office or official in charge of that area and project.

  3. Report – contact your local transportation authority (or relevant body) with as much information as possible. Kindly request a solution.

    • or report construction issues here:

    • Email:

    • CC your local councillor.

If you’ve been injured as a result of negligent construction or forced into traffic and hit, read our crash guide and follow these steps:

  1. Get safe and assess your injuries.

  2. Take pictures of the following:

    • The scene leading up to and including the danger zone

    • Warning signs (if any) leading up to and at the danger zone

    • Road imperfections or disrepair left improperly closed off or marked

    • Exact spot of your crash

    • Your injuries and bike/property damage

3. Witnesses – get witness information of anyone who saw the construction site.

  • Look for nearby video cameras that may have caught the crash

4. Call 911 and/or seek medical attention

5. Consult a lawyer and put the City/Construction company on notice.

  • By putting the City on notice of your claim quickly you give them time to survey the area and ensure the construction company is identified and records preserved.

Ride safe friends.


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