2011 Bikeway Network – Part Two: Separated lanes on Richmond and Bloor – Dave Meslin

Dave Meslin is dandyhorse magazine’s founding publisher. Here he looks at the major issues in the City of Toronto’s 2011 Bikeway Network Update:

Part Two: Separated lanes on Richmond and Bloor

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post showing how Richmond Street would look if we converted one lane of traffic into a physically separated bike lane. I was inspired by the new bike lanes that were being installed in New York City, and I created this image – merging Manhattan’s 8th Ave bike lane, with our own Richmond Street:

While this may seem like a fantasy, we are one step closer to bringing into reality with this this week’s staff report. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong has been vocally supporting a downtown ‘network’ of separated lanes for months. Of all the lanes proposed in the network, I’m most excited by two proposals: Richmond Street (from Bathurst to Sherbourne), and on Bloor (from Sherbourne to Broadview, across the Viaduct).

The Bloor lanes will create a safe and inviting route connecting the downtown to the east side of the Don River valley. These lanes are scheduled to be installed this year. We should be cheerleading this proposal and ensuring that it gets built. This will be Toronto’s first physically separated bike lane, and will serve as a showcase for what’s possible in other parts of town.

The Richmond Street lanes will not happen quite so quickly, but they are far from dead (as some have suggested). The report recommends that Staff “assess the feasibility of separated bike lanes on Adelaide or and/or Richmond” as part of a “larger overall transportation operations study of this area.” A preliminary “terms of reference” for this report is due in September. This study will also, hopefully, help sort out the tension surrounding the north/south bike lane options for John St or Peter St (I won’t get into that here. Can of worms…).

This is a video I shot on my iPhone last week in Brooklyn. It gives you an idea of how a physically separated bike lane on Richmond could look and feel:

The Richmond lanes are something cyclists should be watching closely, and supporting with all their might. We’ll need to build public support – from drivers, to the BIAs, to taxi companies, health agencies, insurance companies, journalists, editorial writers, and of course – City Councillors.

These two proposals (Bloor East and Richmond) are the highlights of the report, for me. The lanes are bold, and could greatly increase the number of people who feel comfortable biking on our streets. Here’s one of the first comments I got on my Facebook wall, when I posted the Brooklyn video:

That’s precisely why I love separated lanes. They are a ‘gateway’ to cycling. Non-cyclists are more likely to try bike riding, if there is a safe place to ride. We’ll see more suits, more kids, and more families on bikes. This could be the biggest step forward for cycling that we’ve ever seen downtown.

Originally posted on June 22, 2011 to mez dispenser

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