November 05, 2023

Bloor Bike Lanes Rally in Etobicoke

Back in September, the City of Toronto started installing the Bloor West Complete Street Extension from Runnymede to Aberfoyle, which will be further extended to Six Points next year. Community Bikeways (TCBC) hosted a celebration ride on Sunday, October 22 – you can read Jun N’s post here – which Councillor Amber Morley attended. However, there has been some backlash with over 10,000 people signing a petition opposing them and Ontario Premier Doug Ford calling for their removal; claiming only one cyclist bikes on them annually. Given this backlash, Community Bikeways, The Biking Lawyer, and other road safety advocates organized today’s Bloor Bike Lanes Rally which brought in 250 to 300 riders.

Photo from TCBC's Bloor West Celebration Ride

Getting there this morning required taking a detour underneath Bloor GO station. Thanks to Michael Longfield for the heads up on this one. And thank goodness for the elevators at the station.

A large crowd started to gather at High Park.

Here’s Bob Murphy - a TCBC community advisor - and TCBC founder Albert Koehl with the "Road Safety Now" sign.

Alison Stewart with Cycle Toronto was being interviewed by CBC.

Given some opponents were calling for a counter protest, Dave Shellnutt (a.k.a. The Biking Lawyer) gave some safety and de-escalation tips including staying within the bike lane.

Albert Koehl and Jennifer Alexander with The Etobicoke Voice spoke before we took off.

One final group shot at High Park.

And here’s a video of the ride which I had to speed up 2.5X to fit everyone within a minute and a half.

Given the large number of riders sticking to the bike lane, the bike lane was packed for at least a few blocks!

Crossing Runnymede Road where the bike lanes used to end before the recent extension.

Regrouping at Jane Street to ensure we got everybody.

Here’s another video I took at the Humber River to give you a sense of the large crowd.

This is one serious bike-jam!

Another stop at Old Mill to regroup.

Some people with Saddle Sisters of High Park helped with corking at The Kingsway. While this spot saw a couple of angry motorists, the claims of a counter protest weren't noticeable at the time. If anything, many people were supportive of our ride.

Thanks to this photo from Brian Tao, there were a couple of counter protesters in The Kingsway. Mark Fernandez from TCBC is on the scene defusing the situation.

The ride about to enter The Kingsway neighbourhood at Prince Edward.

At Royal York Road.

The ride terminated at the Tom Riley Park parking lot which was effectively taken over by cyclists.

Jess Spieker of Friends & Families for Safe Streets spoke at our final stop before we dispersed.

Here's a video of of Jess' speech thanks to Joey Schwartz.

Many participants stopped by Café Rouge Patisserie in The Kingsway on the way home. Their chocolate almond croissants are amazing!

After leaving Café Rouge, I was reminded why we road safety advocates persist with our work. A father and son were riding on the new Bloor bike lanes which is a lot safer to do for everyone than before.

As Jun reported previously, the separation has finally arrived east of the Humber River. A few places still need work, but it’s a breeze to ride from Aberfoyle all the way down.

On the way home, I noticed the underpass at the West Toronto Railpath was reopened.

Thanks to The Biking Lawyer, Community Bikeways, Friends & Families for Safe Streets, Cycle Toronto, Saddle Sisters of High Park, and everyone else for their role in making this rally a success! 😊 Let's ride the new bike lanes often, as well as visit businesses in Bloor West Village and The Kingsway to show them cyclists shop too!

Jun N put up his take on the ride, while Heather and Pier of Bromptoning put up this video from the Humber River.

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