More planning planned for 2019
Bloor-Danforth expansion not included in planned installs
By Tammy Thorne
Almost three years ago the City of Calgary decided to install a grid of cycle tracks and bike lanes in its downtown core. Since then the number of people cycling has increased by about 40% and more women and children are using bikes to get around. That inspired Edmonton to install its own minimum grid of bike lanes. Meanwhile, New York City last year recorded the fewest traffic deaths in more than a century. This was thanks in large part to implementing a Vision Zero plan, which included lowering speed limits on most streets to 25 mph (40 km/h).
TORONTO WHERE YOU AT?
Here in Toronto we had more cycling deaths last year than in any year since 1998. Speed kills. Bike lanes make streets safer. These things we know. Yet, in 2018 only (literally) a few new bike lanes around York University and some in the Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park neighbourhoods were installed and in all cases, the lanes don’t have connections on arterial routes, or to other bike lanes, or, well, destinations. No new bike lanes were installed downtown last year except for a short, well-constructed two-way bike lane on Harbour and Lake Shore (pictured above).
And, it doesn’t look like we will fare much better in 2019.
The only new bike lane installs planned so far for 2019 are:
- a bike lane on Bay from Front to Lakeshore;
- a bike lane and cycle track on Christie from Bloor to Dupont;
- a bike lane and sharrow combo on Peter / Blue Jays Way / Navy Wharf;
- a cycle track on Scarlett Road from Bernice Crescent to Humber River;
- and a bike lane on Willowdale Avenue from Empress to Finch Avenue.
That’s about 9 total kilometres for these new bike lanes projects. (Please note, we are not including the majority of contra-flow lane 'connectors' in our new bike lane counts.)
And, of course, we must discuss the elephant in the room.
BLOOR BIKE LANES
Bloor, Bloor wherefore art thou Bloor bike lanes?
We expected an extension to the east… and an extension to the west… after documented success with the bike lane on Bloor in what is arguably it’s busiest section downtown in the Annex and Korea Town. A transportation staff report on October 3, 2017, said the bike lanes should be considered for the full length of the corridor. “The pilot project has demonstrated that a cycling facility can be successfully implemented on one of busiest and most constrained sections of Bloor Street and should be considered for the full length of the Bloor/Danforth corridor. Further study, consultation, design and Council approval would be required for other sections of Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue.”
Now that 2018 has passed and no action seems to have been taken regarding extending the Bloor bike lanes we were curious about when the corridor studies or EAs would begin – and end.
Eric Holmes, a communications officer for the City could not say when studies for Bloor or Danforth would even begin, but only that staff will soon recommend the “appropriate timing” for planning studies. (Transportation staff confirmed a report would be presented to council in the second quarter of 2019.)
Meanwhile, councillors along Bloor and Danforth have publicly supported the bike lanes and would like to see them installed.
In terms of the gap in the bike lane on Bloor East, between Sherbourne and Church St., Mr. Holmes advises that this bike lane has been delayed, apparently “ because the Capital Works scheduled for that section of Bloor St. has been re-programmed to a future year as a result of capital coordination and the timing of the reconstruction of the Glen Road Bridge and Tunnel under Bloor Street East.” (No date is available as to the timing of the bridge reconstruction. (We think, due to the anticipated delay, bike lanes should be installed now - not after.)
Round ‘n’ round we go! Let’s spin to the top of the wheel and ask Mayor Tory’s office why so few bike lanes are being installed. (Noting: Toronto’s mayor recently admitted in a CBC interview that his administration’s Vision Zero plan isn’t working.)
Don Peat, the Mayor’s executive director of communications says: “Under the Mayor’s leadership, the City has invested in safe, separated bike lanes, connected the gaps in the on-street cycling network, and improved the City’s trail network. The City has invested millions of dollars in cycling infrastructure over the past four years and built on-street bike lanes, including separated bike lanes, and trails.”
Bloor, possibly the most studied bike lane project in the history of all bike lanes, according to the City’s own staff, was made permanent in 2017. It’s now 2019 and we’ve got not much to show 30 months into the bike plan. At the current rate we are installing bike lanes the 10-year plan would take at least 24 years. (Eds note: More like 37 years at the rate of 9 km/year)
Perhaps the City should hire the Urban Repair Squad that used to do guerrilla bike lanes in Toronto to install all the sharrows they call ‘connectors’ throughout the city so that official City transportation planning staff can be freed up to plan and install bike lanes -- at a much more rapid pace.
We deserve better Toronto. We have the cyclists, we just need the infrastructure -- the bike lanes. And, apparently, for that we need coordination and political will. Time to stop making bike lanes so damn political and instead seeing them as what they really are: critical.
Related on dandyhorsemagazine.com:
Street Fighters: The Urban Repair Squad (from issue one)