dandyARCHIVE: The Bike Plan Election Issue

This image by Sean House shows a reimagined University Avenue where bike lanes run along either side of the median.


We asked 23 politicians, planners, policy-makers, professors and advocates which streets they’d most like to see improved for cyclists and how they would get Toronto’s bike plan into high gear. We asked the top five mayoral candidates how they would restore Toronto’s reputation as one of North America’s best cities for cycling.

We also asked all of our experts which major routes they would pick for new or enhanced bike lanes. The top choice for east-west was Bloor-Danforth and the top pick for a new north-south bike route was University Avenue-Avenue Road.

Here are three notable quotes from the 23 experts we interviewed for our Bike Plan Election issue:

Meric Gertler

President, University of Toronto:

Too often the cyclist’s needs are sacrificed for those of the motorist. Jan Gehl is a Danish urban planner. His philosophy is referred to as “planning for people.” He points out that in a typical city, such as Toronto, the bike lanes are configured so that it’s as if the cyclists were protecting the parked cars. He argues that this really ought to be inverted, so that moving outward from the street centre, you have moving cars, then parked cars and then a cycling lane. This way, the parked cars are protecting the cyclists. When you consider the growth of the inner city and central population and the fact that fewer people in cities own cars, upgrading cycling infrastructure is a really good investment in the long-term social and economic quality of life in the city.

One other simple thing is increasing the number of places where people can safely lock their bike. More than once, during a busy time of day, I’ve had to hunt around for a proper place to lock my bike.

Nancy Smith Lea

Director, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT):

The Toronto Bike Plan was a 10-year plan adopted in 2001. Since that was 13 years ago, it’s clear that a review and an update are needed. It was not a perfect plan, but it was — and still is — a good plan. A comprehensive review would determine what went well, what didn’t, and what could be improved in the next version. Implementing a 1,000-km bikeway network was one of the ambitious goals –and only one of 49 recommendations! The bike plan also committed over $70 million for its implementation.

One of the flaws of the 2001 bike plan was that there were very few bike lanes recommended for the downtown core, especially on the east-west arterials where there are lots of cyclists, lots of car-bike collisions, few alternate routes to the arterials, and a high amount of support for bike lanes. Since 2001, we’ve seen an explosion of cycling in the downtown core — and the need is even more urgent than it was to provide safe routes downtown. Instead of trying to predict where new lanes may or may not be politically feasible, we need a more systematic plan. If I had to pick one east-west and one north-south route for cyclists, it would be Bloor-Danforth and University Avenue-Avenue Road.

Monica Campbell

Director, Healthy Public Policy, Toronto Public Health:

In my personal opinion, if we transform Bloor-Danforth and University Avenue-Avenue Road into showcase examples of cycling infrastructure that enhance mobility as well as community vitality, these successes will spur expansion of the cycling network in underserved areas elsewhere in Toronto.

A safe, interconnected cycling network is a crucial feature of a healthy city and healthy residents. Cities across Europe and North America with higher rates of people walking, cycling and taking public transit have lower rates of obesity and related health risks. While a safe cycling network enables people to be physically active and healthy, it also makes economic sense through reduced health care costs and improved productivity. Check out the TPH report, “Road to Health: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto.”

ABOUT THE IMAGE: In a reimagined University Avenue, bike lanes run along either side of the median. One automobile lane on each side of the median is removed, making the avenue quieter and more desirable for pedestrians. Folks can enjoy a chat with friends or an espresso from a pedal-powered coffee vendor. Cyclists are protected from automobiles with strategically placed planters.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

Read our NEW interview with Monica Campbell from Public Health

Bike Spotting: Do you want a protected bike lane on University?

dandyARCHIVE: Saddle Up with Austin Horse

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