Margaret Ave. Bike Lanes – Take #2

I was riding up Margaret Ave. this afternoon.  The bike lanes are being painted!  They appear mostly complete.  Between Guelph St. and Union St., they’ve moved the yellow line and painted the bike lanes and some parking areas.  Between Victoria St. and Union St. they still have a bit more work to do.  They haven’t moved the yellow line yet, so they’ve only painted the bike lanes where there are no parking areas.  Even so, I felt like I had my own space riding on Margaret Ave. today.  The cars stayed a little farther away from me.  My one area of concern is the island in the middle of the street near the Breithaupt Centre and the Giant Tiger store.  It narrows the roadway quite a bit.  I’d hate to have a car try to speed by me right in that spot.  I’m not a fan of these islands.  I know they install them to make crossing streets safer for pedestrians, but I feel like they make cycling less safe.  There are quite a few islands on Queen St., a street I ride on to get to work and back.  I usually check my mirror and them move out into the middle of the lane to prevent any cars from trying to speed by when the road is narrow and dangerous.  After I’m past the islands, I move back over nearer to the curb.  How do other people feel about islands in the middle of roadways?  How or where do you ride when passing them?

13 thoughts on “Margaret Ave. Bike Lanes – Take #2

  1. Yes, there’s an island like that on Park Street between William and John, I think. I also try to take up more of the lane to keep people from blasting past me in the narrow part of the road that remains. Once a guy got mad and passed me at what must have been 80km so that he could cut back in front of me before the island. When I caught up to him at the next stop sign, he told me I had no right to get in his way like I had… that my behaviour was dangerous. Yeesh!

    The islands aren’t just for pedestrians – they’re supposed to make people slow down – but if you choose to install just one on an otherwise straight and wide road, it won’t do the job. People treat Park St. like a highway – hopefully Margaret will be different. Thanks for the update on the lanes, btw, it’s great news! I hope they deal with the approach to the Victoria intersection well, but I’m doubtful.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts JC. I’m not a fan of the islands at all. I’ve had similar experiences with drivers near them. There are no bike lanes marked out between Queen St. and Victoria St. The markings start between Victoria St. and Wellington St.

      1. I meant the approach to Victoria from the north, and I think they got it right or at least as best as they could. They’ve got the bike lane on the right hand side of a straight lane. At Caroline & William, they have a straight bike lane on the left of a right hand turn lane – that can be a little tricky with people cutting across your lane to turn right, or cutting in front of you if you’re going right.

        Victoria & Margaret is still a little tricky because if you’re headed south across the intersection, the roads aren’t directly across from each other so the bike lane leads you off to the side. You need to merge back into the lane to cross the street. I’m not explaining this well… =(

      2. I haven’t gone south down Margaret Ave. in a bit. I ride south down Lancaster to work (it’s early and not very busy). I ride north on Margaret Ave on the way home from work (because Lancaster is so busy at that time of the day). I’ll have to ride south down Margaret Ave. later this week, so I have a better idea about what you’re talking about regarding the lanes.

        Hey JC,
        I’ve biked south down Margaret a couple of times now and approached Victoria Ave. from the north. I understand what you mean about the bike lane and the road not lining up well. If you are stopped at the light and a car that is planning on going straight through comes up beside you, you have nowhere to go. Your choices seem to be to go into the path of the car, hop onto the sidewalk, or wait for all the vehicle traffic to go first and then slide in behind them. I’d really like to see this issue corrected. It’s quite unsafe!

  2. I’m not sure the islands are a problem. I love them for crossing Queen St, a previously long and daunting task at times! I think the issue is more of the width of the road and bike lanes. The bike ‘lane’ on Queen St is ridiculously narrow already, add to that the narrowing at these islands and it does indeed feel unsafe. I think it’s an example of trying to add bicycle infrastructure but not really prioritizing it.

    1. Good point Melissa! I agree that the islands aren’t a problem, if the road if wide enough for them. Davenport Rd. up in Waterloo is a good example of islands and bike lanes done well.

    2. I thought the islands are a partly traffic calming measure, so widening the road for a bike lane would help undermine that effect. Maybe if the bike lane was momentarily segregated with some bollards or something, it could feel safe for the cyclists, but still encourage the cars slow down?

      1. I think you’re right that the islands are partly a traffic calmly measure. I like your bollard idea!

  3. I live on the affected section of Margaret and was really excited when they announced the road diet. With the size of this road I was envisioning something more like Davenport in Waterloo then what they ended up doing. While I’m still excited for the bike lanes and added parking I’m not thrilled with the execution so far.

    Hopefully they fix up the new lines, clean up the old lines better and add some proper markings and signage. I think the execution is preventing many cyclists from using the lanes as I’ve witnessed many still using the sidewalks. I’ve also seen a few cars parking in the bike lanes. There is a purple Intrepid near the roundabout that is in the bike lane daily. It seems like a rude thing to do as he/she only needs to move their car up 10-12 feet to be in a proper parking area.

    As for the islands, I like them as a biped and motorist (the few times I drive our car) but do not like them in most cases as a cyclist for the concerns brought up already. I walk to the Breithaupt Centre a couple times a week and use the island to cross, it is handy.


    1. I checked out the lanes this week on my ride home from work, and yes I’m disappointed with the quality of them. The purple Intrepid was also still parked there both Thursday and Friday. I’m going to try riding on Margaret more regularly, if the car is blocking the lane, I will continue calling by-law enforcement (519-741-2330) until they get the picture.

  4. I just found your blog! Muahaha :) and found this post! I use these lanes to ride from Bruce Street to Manulife by Conestoga and back everyday! (Just started biking 2 weeks ago!) . I agree with those islands, I already had a car cut me off while I was in the bike lane – I was really close to following him when he decided to turn into GT! haha – but other than that, I LOVE bike lanes, I just wish they were everywhere. Expect me to be a regular commenter now! :D

  5. Thanks for the comment JJ! Sorry to hear about your close call. I ride on Margaret Ave. from Union to Queen St. daily. I’m not sure why the lines faded so quickly. I hope they reprint them soon!

    1. Well, you can only do so much! :) Any time! I don’t know what my blog will be about yet – but here’s mine – under Blog :) my most recent post is about biking!! :D But I’m with you! Those lanes need to be re-painted soon! :D

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