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Danforth businesses divided over bike lane

As council prepares to debate the issue, some say they are already hurt by lack of parking on the popular strip

Globe and Mail Update

In the calm after the lunch rush subsides at Omonia Restaurant on Danforth Avenue, apron-wearing owner Toula Agelopoulos comes in from the sunny patio to share her views of a proposed bike lane for her street.

"No bike lane!" she tells a reporter. "No bike lane because they kill us with the [parking] tickets. We lose business with the tickets, so they are going to cut spots too?"

Hers echoed the comments of many canvassed yesterday on the vibrant strip anchored by long-established Greek restaurants. Many business owners said they feared losing scarce on-street parking spots to a bike lane and were quick to complain about what they say are the area's notoriously overzealous parking officers.

The idea of a city-spanning bike lane on Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue all the way from Kipling Avenue to Victoria Park Avenue is to surface next month at city hall.

On June 3, city council's works committee is expected to debate a feasibility study of the idea, long called-for by cycling activists, who say the city lacks safe east-west bike routes.

The study has yet to be finalized. But city councillor Adrian Heaps, chairman of the city's cycling committee, said the bike lane could be installed without sacrificing parking spots and that the eastern stretch, from Victoria Park to Sherbourne Street, could go ahead as early as this year if council approves it.

The city's manager of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, Daniel Egan, says any bike lane on Bloor/Danforth would involve a "big impact" on the street, either by cutting parking spots or slowing rush-hour motor traffic.

Currently, on the popular stretch of Danforth Avenue between Pape and BroadviewAvenues, parking is allowed on both sides of the street except in rush hour, when it is banned on the westbound side in the morning and the eastbound side in the afternoon, to allow for an extra traffic lane. Painting conventional bike lanes on the road while maintaining the parking would make this alternation impossible, reducing rush-hour traffic to one lane in each direction.

Despite the concerns, some businesses said they favoured a bike lane.

Linda Falagario, manager of Blackstone Organic Meats on the Danforth, said she thought it would encourage cycling.

"I think we need a bike lane," Ms. Falagrio said, adding that many of her customers arrive on foot from nearby neighbourhoods.

Even if on-street parking had to be eliminated, she said it would make little difference to her store, adding that those driving in can park in the area's Toronto Parking Authority "Green P" off-street lots.

"There's Green Ps here everywhere," she said. "... If you're driving here from south Rosedale, you probably have a couple other places [on the Danforth] you want to go, so you park in the Green P."

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