October 09, 2017

Grave Warning on Bloor

Potential casualties should the Bloor bike lanes be removed
With the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee debating the fate of the Bloor bike lanes next week, many local cyclists are spooked about the possibility of having them removed. Especially when the Bloor bike lanes were forty years in the making. However, what many Toronto residents may not realize is losing Bloor has even more grave consequences that go far beyond the bike lanes.
1 – Cycling Network Plan

A key part of the bike plan approved last year is the inclusion of eight major corridor studies. Six of these – Danforth, Kingston, Lake Shore, Kipling, Jane, and Midland – have been put on hold until Fall 2018 with Danforth expected to be brought up at the same time as the Bloor bike lanes. Since the results from Bloor are expected to inform the other major corridor studies, losing Bloor could jeopardize plans for bike lanes on those corridors as well as on Yonge, which is expected to be rebuilt next year. Even Yonge is at risk thanks to some blowback from residents and suburban councillors who prefer bike lanes on Doris and Beecroft instead.

Without these major corridors, the bike plan would become neutered as what happened with the 2001 Bike Plan and Toronto will again become the laughing stock of the world on transportation matters.

2 – Vision Zero

In response to last year’s high number of pedestrian (and cycling) fatalities and subsequent media coverage such as Metro News’ #TODeadlyStreets series, Toronto City Council approved a road safety plan in July 2017 aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities. With another recent surge in pedestrian deaths – seven within as many days – City Council voted last week to have staff study accelerating the so-called Vision Zero plan from five years to two.
Protected bike lane pilot project on Adelaide Street
A key part of Vision Zero includes a successful rollout of the Cycling Network Plan with protected bike lanes on arterial roads. About 70% of Toronto residents would cycle more if it were safer to do so; something protected bike lanes accomplish. A recent report from Ottawa found the Laurier Avenue bike lanes reduced pedestrian and cyclist collisions by 50% and 30% respectively within four years while increasing cycling traffic by 330%! Toronto’s Richmond and Adelaide Streets saw similar increases since protected bike lanes were installed in 2014 with a recent citizen-led count showing almost 2000 cyclists on Adelaide (at Spadina) during the morning rush hour (7 – 10 AM) alone!

Mayor John Tory and PWIC chair Jaye Robinson claim to be key supporters of Vision Zero. With the safety benefits of protected bike lanes, this support becomes meaningless if they vote to remove the Bloor bike lanes.

3 – Transform T.O.

In July 2017, Toronto city council unanimously approved Transform T.O.; a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Achieving this goal will require dramatically reducing the number of single occupancy vehicles on Toronto’s roads while increasing walking, cycling, and public transit.
Toronto needs more transit, but takes years and billions of dollars to build
While Toronto is in dire need of more public transit, such projects take years and billions of dollars to get built; not to mention the risk of political interference. (*cough* Scarborough *cough* Subway) Until this December with the Spadina subway extension to Vaughan, the TTC hasn’t opened new rapid transit lines since the Sheppard subway in 2002. The Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West LRT lines are expected to open in 2021 (or 2022), while studies are under way for the long-debated Relief Line.

Cycling infrastructure is considerably cheaper and can be built faster with paint, signs, and bollards. Co-ordinating bike lanes with scheduled road work can lead to even bigger savings. Getting people on bikes can help accomplish greenhouse gas emission reductions faster than transit, which in turn can make transit more attractive. Not just by freeing up transit capacity for those who need it for longer trips or for accessibility reasons, but also by building bike lanes and parking near transit stations. Henceforth, losing Bloor would reduce the overall effectiveness of Transform T.O.
Metrolinx's Draft Cycling Plan - Note the inclusion of Bloor, Danforth & Yonge
Final Remarks

Given the potential for collateral damage with the Cycling Network Plan, Vision Zero, and Transform T.O. – not to mention potential disputes with Metrolinx's latest Regional Transportation Plan – it would be unwise for Toronto City Council to remove the Bloor bike lanes. Especially when factoring in the doubling of cycling traffic since the bike lanes were installed, improved safety for ALL road users, and the broad base of support.

If you haven’t already done so, please sign the Bloor Loves Bikes pledge at www.bloorlovesbikes.ca, call Mayor John Tory at (416) 397 2489 (and your councillor), and e-mail PWIC when Cycle Toronto issues an action alert.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Rob Z (e-mail)

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