Blind lawyer says new bike lanes on Eglinton Avenue have got to go

Constructing protected bike infrastructure in the city of Toronto is always controversial, but the new bike lanes on Eglinton Avenue have raised red flags for an entirely new reason.

In a revealing YouTube video posted by disability activist and AODA Alliance Chair, David Lepofsky, serious concerns have been raised about a new bike lane constructed on the sidewalk of Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto. The video exposes the potential dangers this unconventional design poses to blind pedestrians and the general public.

David Lepofsky, a retired lawyer and champion of disability rights, emphasizes the endangerment the sidewalk bike lane poses to visually impaired individuals. Lepofsky, who chairs the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA), argues that the absence of clear tactile differences between the sidewalk and the bike path creates a hazardous situation for individuals relying on canes for navigation.

“It is especially infuriating that this happened in a city and province which are required by Ontario law to become accessible and barrier-free to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025,” said Lepofsky. “Our City should not treat people with disabilities as expendable second class citizens.”

Lepofsky, a key figure in the campaign for the passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, points out that the act includes provisions to eliminate existing barriers and prevent the creation of new ones. His frustration with the disregard for these provisions is evident as he calls for immediate corrective action.

In the video, Lepofsky makes the contention that the hazardous bike path not only jeopardizes people with disabilities but also poses risks to pedestrians and cyclists without disabilities. He alleges the illegality of the design, arguing that it violates the right to equality for people with disabilities as outlined in the Charter of Rights, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Lepofsky is urging the City of Toronto to rectify the issue and prevent such hazards in the future.

In an interview with the Toronto Star, a city spokesperson said the new bike lanes are in compliance with AODA legislation.

Becky Katz, manager of pedestrian and cycling projects at the City of Toronto, explained that bikeways at sidewalk level feature a textured surface between the sidewalk and the elevated cycle track, detectable by foot or cane. Although universal standards were followed, Katz acknowledged a preference for a change in elevation. As a result, the city has adopted beveled curbs as the default design for raised bikeways going forward.