Battle over removing traffic lanes for bike lanes gets heated in Mississauga


Published May 17, 2024 at 1:45 pm

A plan to reduce driving lanes and add bike lanes on Bloor Street in Mississauga has sparked opposition and even death threats although it is unlikely the decision will be reversed.

Now known as the Bloor Street redesign, the project was approved in June 2023 after two years of community meetings. The first community meeting on what was then called the Bloor Street Integrated Project was on June 23, 2021.

At that time the project aims were to create a street “that is safe for all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and motorists.” The project scope was to include road resurfacing, road safety under Vision Zero, intersection improvements, cycling infrastructure, transit infrastructure, noise walls, and stormwater and drainage.

Planning started because Bloor Street is due for asphalt resurfacing and rehabilitation and this gave the city an opportunity to make a change for the future.

bloor street bike lanes

The City of Mississauga council approved Bloor Street project, which will redesign the road to remove two traffic lanes and add a continuous two-way left turn lane and bike lanes, on June 28, 2023. Construction is slated to start this fall and be complete by the end of 2025, according to the latest timeline from the City of Mississauga.

Several different street configurations were considered including a plan to keep the four traffic lanes and add the bike lanes to the boulevard, seen here but in the end council voted in favour of the current project known as “Alternative 6”.

Members of the Applewood Hills and Heights Residents’ Association, who recently organized a lawn sign campaign opposing the removal of traffic lanes on Bloor, said they were never told the bike lanes were non-negotiable. They believed the city would work with community groups to come up with a compromise.

“We were never told that it (bike lanes) was a mandatory thing,” Athena Tagidou, member of the Applewood Hills and Heights Residents’ Association told

The group has a petition with more than 3,400 signatures opposing the removal of two traffic lanes on Bloor Street.

Applewood Hills and Heights Residents’ Association said they no longer had a voice in the last community meeting on the project and claim the majority of people at the last meeting opposed Alternative 6 but council voted for it anyway.

They also feel there weren’t sufficient traffic studies on the project and it is going to cause significant congestion. There are safety concerns about residents pulling out of their driveways.

bike lanes bloor mississauga

Applewood Hills and Heights Residents’ Association started a lawn sign campaign and petition.

In response to the concerns about the lack of a traffic study, a City of Mississauga spokesperson said staff completed a transportation analysis on existing and future (2041) traffic operations.

“The PM peak hour time period was used, as it represents the busiest time of day along Bloor Street and the surrounding transportation network,” the spokesperson said in an email. “The results of this analysis confirm that Alternative 6 will operate at an acceptable Level-of-Service (LOS), as there is sufficient east-west capacity within the transportation network to accommodate both existing and future (2041) travel demand.”

bike lanes mississauga

Advocates for the Alternative 6 design said it is safer and in keeping with Vision Zero.

In 2018, the City of Mississauga passed Vision Zero, working toward a goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries from collisions.

In 2018, 14 people died in traffic collisions and that number hasn’t changed much, according to Peel Regional Police statistics. In 2020 and 2021, 18 people died each year, and in 2022, 16 people died.

Research in the last 20 years or more shows “road diets” or reducing four lanes into three (one each way plus a shared turn lane in the middle) result in much safer roads. One report found, in small urban areas, post-road diet crashes dropped by about 47 per cent.

Jonathan Giggs, Mississauga Cycling Now, told that he was surprised the City of Mississauga approved such a “progressive” and safer option as the city has been car-centric for many years.

Many of the roads in Mississauga were designed in the 1970s and communities are moving away from four-lane road configuration.

“There are lots of safety concerns with those roads,” said Giggs. “Most of it is that they lead to excessive lane switching. If somebody turns left or turn, right, then there’s a backup of people…so there’s a lot of lane changing. There’s a lot of speed, there’s a greater variance in the speed that the traffic is flowing.”

In a road diet configuration traffic flows are much more predictable and smoother, he added.

bike lanes mississauga

And while some argue that no one cycles on Bloor Street, Giggs said that is because there are no bike lanes.

As the population grows, people need alternatives.

“We just can’t keep on putting people in cars, if we talk about affordability, one great way of making things more affordable for people is maybe making them not have to own a car, or as many cars, if they can reduce the car ownership, not having to pay for gas maintenance and insurance, that will be better for everybody, including the planet,” said Giggs.

The issue has become heated with mayoral candidates now weighing in and tension at a recent council meeting.

Ward 3 Coun. Chris Fonseca accused mayoral candidate and Ward 7 Coun. Dipika Damerla of violating of the City of Mississauga’s code of conduct when she supported the Applewood Hills and Heights Residents’ Association petition.

Both councillors said they have experienced bullying over the issue. People have blocked Foncesa’s driveway, bullied her and staff members and issued death threats over the Bloor Street project.

Ward 3 Councillor Chris Fonseca serves as acting Mississauga mayor

It is not clear who bullied or made threats but the Applewood Hills and Heights Residents’ Association said they are firmly against any aggression, violence or bullying.

Of the mayoral candidates who responded to, the majority support keeping all four traffic lanes on Bloor. See their full comments below.

But the project for Bloor Street has been approved as a capital project in the 2024 budget and unlikely to be reversed as it would require a councillor who voted in favour to bring it back to a vote, according to a City of Mississauga spokesperson.

“In accordance with the Procedure By-law, the matter cannot be reconsidered by Council unless a motion is passed by Council to reconsider.  The motion to reconsider can only be made by a Member of Council who voted on the prevailing side,” the spokesperson told 

Here are responses from Mississauga mayoral candidates:

Stephen Dasko

“One candidate, Dipika Damerla, has taken the position she will singlehandedly cancel the project, and this is totally misleading. Only the full Council has the authority to cancel or alter the project. My commitment is that I will put forward a motion asking my Council colleagues to review their decision on this matter.

As Mayor, I am prepared to ask my council colleagues to undertake such a review in July of this year. However, such a review will have to take into consideration the desire for bike lanes, the flow of traffic and the safety of area residents. It is unlikely that any party in this discussion will get all they desire. It will require a compromise on both sides.”

Alvin Tedjo

“After numerous studies, design reviews, substantive public consultations, and following our unanimous City Council commitment to Vision Zero in Mississauga, the Bloor Street plan has been affirmed as the right decision for our city.

I will not compromise the safety of Mississauga residents to score political points in this election. I firmly support any infrastructure projects that make our roads safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.”

Diya Atassi

“I am not in favour of the Bloor Street redesign plan. While promoting alternative transportation methods is crucial, I believe the proposed changes may worsen existing traffic congestion issues, especially during peak hours. I advocate for a more balanced approach that strikes a balance between promoting sustainable transportation, ensuring smooth traffic flow, and enhancing accessibility for all modes of transportation.”

Brian Crombie

“I am the one person if elected Mayor that can and does guarantee the issue will be brought back to Council, because I would be a new vote. Given the controversy and public outcry this is the perfect example of an issue that should come back to Council for a full review and approval with a complete renewed staff report and depositions from both those for and against the proposal. Let’s let democracy work and hear the voice of all.”

Winston Harding

“I am against the Bloor Street redesign plan, which would reduce driving lanes and add bike lanes. I believe the current four-lanes configuration should be maintained. I would support efforts to squash the approved plan and keep Bloor Street as it is. It is a settled street, let’s keep it that way.”

Sara Iqbal

“As a candidate for the mayoral by-election, I am in favour of the Bloor Street redesign since the addition of bike lanes would support the city’s green initiative. I am in favour of this plan since studies have found that narrower lanes mean lower speeds and less aggressive driving while wider roadways have 33% higher vehicle impact speeds and crash rates. Allowing bike lanes adds to freedom of choice to your transportation. You choose whatever mode works for you at that particular time.”

Syed Jaffery

“It was a plan pushed forward by a huge environmental community. I believe the majority of people are in favour even though there is a downside to it.  It will create some traffic congestion. The planners had looked at it and made the best decision considering that future will hold more bikers than car owners.”

Sinisa Mandrapa

“I propose widening the street to maintain existing lanes for cars while adding dedicated bike lanes, enhancing safety for both drivers and cyclists. Prioritizing safety and preventing accidents is crucial, and this approach aims to uphold human life while minimizing legal risks for drivers.”

Mike Matulewicz

“Not in favour. Emergency fire, ambulance and police obstructed causing safety issues for local residents. Traffic congestion and increased pollution, $27 million could house the chronically homeless in dire need of a home before they can deal with issues.”

David Shaw

“Can’t believe the choice for Mayor comes down to bike lanes when we have people living in tents. Our shelters are at 400%. Food bank usage is through the roof. Seniors being kicked to the curb.  And we are worried about bike lanes. I will suspend them. I have bigger priorities as mentioned above.”

George Tavares

“The redesign as proposed may inadvertently create division in the city by pitting cyclists against drivers and even a homeowners association. This matter seems to have escalated beyond the appropriate levels, highlighting division within the city council itself.

My alternative approach emphasizes bringing in a mediator to facilitate open, constructive dialogue among stakeholders to find common ground. My aim is to protect the interests of all parties involved while ensuring a safe and efficient redesign that benefits the community as a whole.”

Zufliqar Ali

“In my opinion Bloor Street in Mississauga offers a vital thoroughfare for commuters and residents alike. While introducing bike lanes is commendable for promoting sustainable transportation, it’s imperative to ensure that any modifications prioritize safety and efficiency for all users.

By keeping in mind the growth rate of the population in Mississauga, Implementing bike lanes shouldn’t come at the expense of reducing drive lanes, as it could potentially exacerbate traffic congestion and inconvenience motorists. A balanced approach that accommodates both cyclists and drivers is essential for fostering a harmonious urban environment.”

Mitchell MacEachern

“I am always open to the idea of having more bike lanes. However, safety takes precedence. Bloor is a narrow street with a lot of driveways and vehicle traffic.

Unfortunately, I do not think narrowing the street any further is going to make it safe for anyone, even with the bike lanes separated and raised above street level. I would like to look at the plans again and see if we can get another design going. With that said, Burnhamthorpe has wide sidewalks on both sides of the road, which cyclists can readily use. Perhaps Burnhamthorpe can be the alternative for cyclists.”

Candidates Dipika Damerla, Carolyn Parrish, Nathalie Xian Yi Yan, Mohsin Khan, Jamie Dookie, Frank Fang and Xiaohua Gong did not respond as of publication.

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