Photo by Molly Crealock
dandyARCHIVE: City's Chief Planner Likes Bikes
Jennifer Keesmaat says separated bike lanes on Eglinton are a good idea
From our 2013 safety issue
Interview by Tammy Thorne
dandyhorse: You got quite a bit of attention when you tweeted that congestion was tied to housing, can you elaborate on how walkable neighbourhoods and cyclsing can help negate congestion?
Jennifer Keesmaat: A big part of why we have congestion problems is because people end up living far away from where they work. We’ve got to invest in “complete communities” and ensure that people can live close to where they work. When we do a better job of connecting where people live with where they work, then walking and cycling become viable ways of getting around. You can actually get pretty far on a bike.
DH: So how about that bike station at Nathan Phillips Square?
JK: I think it’s a good idea to have secure bike parking. Building cycling infrastructure is a way of sending a really strong message to the residents of the city that cycling is part of our transportation infrastructure. When we can get people cycling as opposed to driving we know that has a whole variety of benefits; health, environmental and economic. There are lots of benefits for a city when people who can, choose to cycle.
DH: How will the Eglinton LRT include cyclists in its design? You live in that neighbourhood and must be looking forward to the construction.
JK: I do, I live at Yonge and Eglinton and am very excited about the LRT. Regarding integrating cycling, the intention is to do a much better job [than St. Clair]. Currently there are a variety of options on the table that all include integrating cycling infrastructure. Whether it’s a cycle track or separated cycle lanes on either side of the street.
DH: So, definitely some kind of separated lanes then?
JK: Well, I wouldn’t say def initely just yet because we’re still going through the environmental assessment process and I can’t preempt that. I will be advocating for separated lanes, absolutely.
DH: What would you do to make it safer for children cycling in the city?
JK: My kids bike school. I would like to get more children cycling. Because when you have a critical mass, people become sensitized to those users having a legitimate road space. One of the challenges right now, particularly for my daughter in the route that she takes, is that she’s the only one.
She isn’t part of a critical mass of other kids cycling to school. She does have a pretty good route, she goes through a park and she’s on some residential side streets, but the closer she gets to school the great the volume there is
of parents driving their kids to school, which creates more risk to her as a cyclist.
DH: What do you think the barriers are for any cyclist, child or adult, riding their bike in uptown or midtown neighbourhoods?
JK: There are a few; one is that bikes lanes here and there aren’t generally effective, it works much better when you have a network, just like anything, if you’re a pedestrian and you’re walking and suddenly the sidewalk ends you’re in a bit of a Catch-22. The same thing with bicycling, if you’re riding your bike and suddenly the network ends, all of a sudden you’re in mixed traffic and the safety decreases significantly. I think it’s all about increasing the network and increasing the connectivity so that taking the shortest distance between two points on a bike is, in fact, possible.
This story was from our 2013 safety issue - a.k.a. issue 10!
Related on the dandyBLOG:
NEW! Changing Lanes: Blueprints for a New Road Order (Event on Dec. 1 with Janette Sadik-Khan and Jennifer Keesmaat)