Report from the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, May 16

New pathway connections are planned for the Bikeway Trails Plan.

Bike plan takes a turn down the garden path at City Hall

Story 
by Samantha Edwards
, photo from Toronto.ca

Toronto cyclists are likely to get a much more scenic ride, but, it would seem, at the expense of bike lanes.

Toronto’s Transportation Services has devised a strategy for the implementation of the Bikeway Trails Plan, a 10-year plan that includes building 77 kilometers of new bikeway trails in parks and hydro corridors on the existing 286-kilometer network. The council’s public works and infrastructure committee (PWIC) heard these recommendations from city staff at their meeting on Wednesday, May 16.

Along with expanding the current trails network, city staff recommends building 12 new trails, totalling approximately 30 kilometers, four trail feasibility studies and an annual program to upgrade the existing trails for safety and connectivity. These initiatives, which are the plan’s top priorities, will be implemented between 2012 and 2016.

Some of the trails to be built include the East Don Trail which would run within the East Don Valley lands from Lawrence Ave. E to the convergence of the East Don and West Don Rivers.

The estimated cost to execute these short-term priorities in the Bikeway Trails Plan is approximately $30 million out of a total cycling infrastructure budget of $45.1 million. That leaves around only $15 million for on-street bikeways, separated bike lanes and bike parking.

While many councillors noted they were enthusiastic about the bike trails, they were disappointed that it was at the expense of on-street infrastructure. As Councillor Janet Davis simply put it, “I like bike trails, but I also bike lanes and it doesn’t seem like we’re getting anymore.” Councillor Mike Layton agreed, stating that the plan shunned urban cyclists. “Trails are not an option for commuter cyclists. They rely on lanes on the roads.”

Layton, who told council that just days ago he was almost hit by a taxi on College Street where he was biking, also stressed the importance of creating a safe environment for Toronto cyclists: “As we gradually shift away from roads to trails we’re missing the opportunity to improve safety on ours streets for cyclists.”

The former Bike Plan from 2001 called for 495 kilometers of bike lanes to be completed in a ten-year span. Currently, the city only has 113 kilometer of bike lanes completed, with a bleak future for major improvement.

The shift in resources from on-street infrastructure to trails also contradicts the 2001 plan. As Councillor Gord Perks pointed out, the new plan calls for 286 kilometers of bike trails, which is 37 more kilometers than the original strategy.

The public works and infrastructure committee chair, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, will present this plan to full council in June.

The committee also voted to elongate a planned east-west separated bike lane on Wellesley Street, extending it westward to St. George Street and eastward to Parliament Street. Additionally, the committee also approved a motion to report back early next year on building a separated bike lane on Harbord Street, from Ossington Avenue to St. George Street

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Take a look at our NEW Trinity Bellwoods bike spotting! We asked: Could the park paths be improved?

Read our report from the Public Consultation on the Trails Plan from February, here.

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