July 27, 2015

Bike Plan from Cycle Toronto's Advocates Perspectives

On Tuesday, July 21, Cycle Toronto’s ward leaders were invited to City Hall to get updates on the bike plan consultation process, as well as to provide feedback on the draft plan unveiled in late June.
Draft downtown bike plan from survey (red/brown = new priorities)
Staff Update

Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati – Manager of Cycling Infrastructure and Programs – kicked off the meeting by thanking Cycle Toronto advocates for their efforts and providing the context of the new bike plan. It incorporates the 2012 Trails Plan, key transit planning studies (e.g. Eglinton, Finch, Scarborough), and new design standards not available from the 2001 plan (e.g. cycle tracks, green markings, bicycle boulevards). Gulati underscored the importance of co-ordinating with capital works projects and the three principles of connect, grow, and renew.

Christina Bouchard, Project Lead for the bike plan, provided several interesting facts uncovered during the process.
  1. In addition to public consultations, councillors and the Planning and Transportation Services departments are being consulted to help build support.
  2. The Cycling App recorded over 70 000 trips which indicated a preference for direct routes and dedicated cycling facilities. College and Dundas are exceptions given high cycling volumes and lack of infrastructure.
  3. The Phase 1 values survey got over 12 000 responses, which is very high and even prompted other governments to request Toronto’s advice! The Phase 2 draft plan survey only got 3000 responses, though technical difficulties were a likely cause for the lower response.
  4. Cycle Toronto’s feedback was consistent with other consultations. A majority (54%) of infrastructure requests were on arterial roads and the top three values are safety (especially at intersections), connectivity, and coverage.
  5. The draft plan has 95 projects covering 436 kilometres with a greater density in the downtown core.
City of Toronto Map of Cycling Trips (PDF link)
Norma from IBI Group then discussed the project prioritization process and showed eight maps of criteria ranging from current and potential demand to coverage and collisions.[1] While downtown was expected to have high demand and good coverage, North York Centre (Yonge & Sheppard) has high demand but little coverage. In a nod to ongoing advocacy on Bloor, that street was ranked the highest. Gulati closed off the staff presentation by discussing the need to prioritize for 2016 and 2017, budget funding scenarios (which didn’t include Cycle Toronto’s campaign for $20 million annually), and that projects will still be considered even if they are not in the final plan.
Bloor Loves Bikes leaflets from Bells on Bloor, Cycle Toronto & resident associations
Ward Group Presentations

Each ward group had two minutes to present their priorities, which will be summarized by district.

Scarborough – Representatives of four Scarborough wards supported the inclusion of Midland, Eglinton, Danforth, and Kingston in the draft plan. Marvin Macaraig of Ward 36 called for the missing Victoria Park to Danforth portion of Kingston to be added in the plan, while Jared Kolb – Executive Director of Cycle Toronto – indicated Ward 39 preferred in-boulevard paths like those on Eglinton West. Interesting facts identified include Jonathan Schmidt citing Ward 35 has the lowest percentage of residents with drivers’ licenses and Hetti Cheung identifying a communication barrier in Ward 41, where 20% of residents do not speak English or French.

North York – Eglinton and Yonge are the top arterial roads included in the plan which North York advocates supported. Bathurst and Bayview are popular, though only north of Sheppard is included for Bathurst and Bayview gets a short stretch south of Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Geoff Kettel of Ward 26 recommended separation for Eglinton east of the Don River. Alexander Bojic (Ward 10) and Darnel Harris (Ward 8) supported the inclusion of Finch and shared concerns about intersections and hydro corridor gaps. Ward 8 focused on establishing a community bike hub and centre, while Kevin Beattie of Ward 23 identified North York Centre as Canada’s condo capital!

Etobicoke – Currently, Cycle Toronto does not have a strong presence in Etobicoke and Robert Pylypiw was the only presenter representing Etobicoke Lakeshore (Wards 5/6). He identified trail concerns such as the 500 metre gap in the Etobicoke Creek Trail, crowding on the Martin Goodman Trail, and the missing MGT link from Norris to First. The Queensway is the east-west priority not in plan and while Kipling was included, he recommended using the CPR corridor west of Kipling given the street’s high speeds.

Downtown – Given the level of cycling advocacy and demand, properly identifying all downtown priorities would need a separate post! Nonetheless, there was unanimous support for Bloor, Danforth, Yonge, and Eglinton. East end advocates supported the inclusion of Woodbine, Donlands, and the northern part of Broadview; while Brandon Quigley of Ward 30 recommended adding the southern part of Broadview and extending the Eastern bike lanes over the Don River to connect with Richmond-Adelaide. In the west end, Melissa Goldstein of Ward 19 identified poor cycling conditions in Liberty Village, Liz Sutherland of Ward 18 supported expanding bike share and increasing bicycle parking installation, and Ward 14’s main concern was the lack of east-west connections in Parkdale. Ward 28’s Alison Stewart recommended upgrading the popular Gerrard and Shuter bike lanes, while Kathryn Grond of Ward 21 supported Winona in order to extend the Shaw contraflow lanes to Eglinton and Marlee.
One business outreach idea is the recent Danforth Loves Bikes pub crawl
If you have not already done so, please complete the draft bike plan survey at http://torontocyclingnetwork.metroquest.ca and let the city know what you support and what’s missing! With the proposed routes identified, it’s time to work with stakeholders (residents, businesses, council) & deliver on the plan!

Gear up!
Rob Z (e-mail)


[1] The eight maps can be accessed at http://www.torontocyclingnetwork.info/studying-toronto/.