Bike lane safety upgrades added to intersection at Gordon and Surrey Streets in Guelph

Safety upgrades have been made to one of the most dangerous intersections in Guelph.

Last week, bike lanes on Gordon Street, north of Wellington Street, were widened and now include more permanent concrete fixtures.

In 2020, city officials marked the intersection of Gordon and Surrey Streets as the most dangerous spot in the city for cyclists.

Staff cite "ongoing safety issues" as the reason behind the changes made to Gordon Street between Fountain and Wellington.

The southbound bike lanes have been widened slightly from 1.8 metres to two.

Concrete curbs and highly visible bollards measuring four feet tall have also been installed on the southbound bike lane.

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie, known as an advocate for cycling, says he was very passionate about the issue at the intersection, which saw drivers either not fully paying or attention or not sharing the road.

"Be a good driver," he said. "We shouldn't even have to put in infrastructure like this in here but many drivers appreciate the separated bicycle infrastructure along with those that are using it as well and I think we need more of this across the city, but we need drivers to be good drivers."

The president of the Speed River Cycling Club says the upgraded safety measures still aren't enough.

"I've (been) riding this stretch just out of curiosity three times since then and I had three close calls," said James Redosov.

With a busy road, a bike lane and a McDonald's drive-thru in one area, Fedosov said the intersection creates "a perfect storm."

He said some drivers either aren't paying attention when pulling into the drive-thru or they miscalculate just how fast cyclists are coming down the hill.

During rush hour and meal times, cars entering the drive-thru can often block vehicle traffic too.

Guelph police's Cst. Kyle Grant said it is "not optimal" that cars are sometimes stopped in a live lane.

"But when we're looking at the circumstances and we're looking at the situation it is the best that can be done at this point because I would much rather have the vehicles waiting in that curb lane of traffic rather than obstructing the bike lane," he said.

City of Guelph staff say if the restaurant were built today, the current layout would not be allowed, adding it was grandfathered in.

"The current drive-thru access off of Gordon Street was built before our current zoning by-laws and site plan approval requirements, so it's a non-conforming site, but it is something that is allowed to exist," said Jennifer Juste, Guelph's manager of transportation planning.

Juste said McDonald's has been supportive of the traffic safety message and have been sharing it.

"They also include some messaging over the PA (system) when they are taking orders to remind people not to block the bike path as well," she said.

The city says they will continue collecting safety data, adding that forcing the restaurant to move the entrance is a last resort.

"Our guests' and employees' safety is always our primary consideration in all our restaurants and their premises," Jennifer Antolin, McDonald's Canada franchisee, said in an emailed statement.

She said the restaurant worked with the city to install two signs on the sidewalk, adding they also installed their own signage in the drive-thru.

"We are in constant communication with the City of Guelph and hoping to see changes coming soon," Antolin said. "In the meantime, we encourage guests, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians to remain aware, alert, and courteous to each other."

A collision report from the City of Guelph shows between 2015 and 2019, nine of 29 reported collisions at the Gordon and Surrey intersection involved a cyclist.

At the mid-block location between Surrey and Wellington, six of 25 reported collisions during the same period involved a cyclist.