How flowers keep cyclists safe on some downtown Toronto streets

Flower Power isn't dead.
Planters have been sprouting up along bike lanes in Toronto’s Financial and Entertainment districts to protect cyclists on busy streets.

Set up between bollards, the flexible white posts marking bike lanes, and along sidewalks, the planters feature seasonal displays of flowers providing comfort to cyclists and Instagram worthy floral arrangements.

They're part of the Entertainment District Business Improvement Area (BIA) and Financial District BIA’s effort to provide safety to cyclists while beautifying the streets.

“We think it definitely improves the look and feel of the cycle tracks,” says Shawn Dillon, manager of cycling Infrastructure and programs for the City of Toronto.

While Dillon says the planters make the bike lanes feel safer and more comfortable, he says there is currently no evidence that they provide better protection than the standard bollards. Many of Toronto’s bike lane bollards are damaged and bent, coloured with nicks of various car paints, some slumped over, defeated after being hit by a car. The planters have not suffered these same abuses. 

“The planters add an additional layer of safety,” says Cycle Toronto’s Jared Kolb. “It’s much harder to drive over a planter.” 

“People agreed that the flowers added a lot of dignity to an otherwise painted line on the road,” says Urban Land Institute’s executive director, Richard Joy. “They’re a neat contribution from the Entertainment District BIA and I applaud them.”

Janice Solomon, executive director of the Entertainment District BIA says the flowers make the wide Richmond and Adelaide streets seem more intimate, "Flowers are lovely no matter where they are, it does make a big difference."

The Entertainment District BIA and Financial District BIA are funding and maintaining the planters. The pilot project will go before City Council late this year to determine whether the they should be made permanent.