dandyARCHIVE: Cyclists want to take the High Road

by Tammy Thorne, image by Chris Hardwicke

~dandyARCHIVE from Issue 6 (Spring 2011)~

Cyclists want to take the High Road

Imagining the West Toronto Railpath as a hub to our "Velo City" of the future

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars – from the seat of a bicycle.

In these pages of dandyhorse, we imagine a futuristic “Velo City” where the West Toronto Railpath becomes a hub for a network of innovative elevated, covered cycle tracks designed so the wind is always at your back.

When architect Chris Hardwicke first proposed “a high-speed, all-season, pollution free, ultra-quiet transit system that makes people healthier” in 2004, his velo-city concept garnered international praise.

The bicycle remains a brilliant modern innovation, yet in our increasingly congested city, it is cars that get the big right-of-ways, while transit riders get expensive underground subways. Cyclists, if lucky, get a white line painted in a curb lane, often occupied by parked cars, debris, potholes and, in the winter, snow.

The velo-city concept simply gives bicycles the same level of dedicated infrastructure that other modes of transit enjoy.

Toronto’s first multi-use path in a rail corridor downtown was originally intended to reach the financial district. However, due to imminent and much needed commuter rail expansion, the West Toronto Railpath rolled out at 2.1 km in the fall of 2009 after years of waiting. The remaining 4.4 km –roughly from Dundas and Lansdowne to Strachan and King – overlaps with GO train expansions, as well as the proposed rail link to the airport.

An innovative city would see cycling commuters as part of the solution: picture hundreds of suburban train commuters merging into traffic at the Bloor GO station on their BIXI bikes to go downtown.

Velo-city tubes would act as express lanes for cyclists and still connect with on-street and trail infrastructure – and could even go all the way to the airport.

At the very least, the concept could be used to help complete the sweet 6.5 km car-free ride the Railpath first promised.

So let’s bring our gaze up from the gutter. We need to be more ambitious if we truly want to make change. velo-city.ca

This article originally appeared in Issue 6.

Stayed tuned to the dandyBLOG for the latest on the railpath expansion.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

City announces plan to extend railpath

dandyCommute: Junction Triangle to Richmond and Spadina

Introducing Ward 14 advocacy group

You complete me: Compete Streets

Metrolinx project sparks calls for new vision at the rail’s edge

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