Beyond the rhetoric: Sarah Thomson presents realistic bike plan
Allow bikes on the road and even make it safer and easier for them on the road? As one of the main frontrunners for the mayor's seat, Sarah Thomson had first bucked the trend of playing it safe by proposing road tolls to pay for public transit, and now she's come out with a real bike plan, cheekily called "Bike City". This is a breath of fresh air. Rossi, Ford and copy-cat Smitherman have taken to pretending that commuter cyclists don't exist and hope that they'll shut up if they build a handful of trails that haven't already been built. In a time when people like Ford like to shit on the things that work, like streetcars and bike lanes, this is a welcome change to the rhetoric of the "war on cars":
We've all heard the terms "War on the Car" and "War on Bikes". I am tired of those terms being used to cover politicians' inabilities to come up with and implement a viable plan for shared road use.
Cars, motorcycles, cyclists, and pedestrians all use the same roads. Toronto needs to have a plan to make the roads safe and useable for anyone who has a right to use them.
Bike City is a reasonable proposal to lay the foundation for a strong cycling community in Toronto. I envision a Toronto where even a complete novice can pick up a bike and ride safely and easily from their front door to their place of work.
Opponents of the cycling community say that Toronto wasn't built for bikes. They're right, it wasn't. But a Sarah Thomson administration will transform our city into a world-class cycling city.
Thomson doesn't provide a lot of details in words, but her two maps show a general approach of creating shared lanes on major arterials and improving cycling on residential streets and secondary arterials. I suspect that she's had a lot of help from a blogger called "Instructable Ted" who's blog Giddy Up Toronto hosts the maps. "Inscrutable Ted" says he's got lots of ways to improve Toronto but isn't allowed to use his engineering degree in this country. That's a shame since there does seem to be innovation going on here.
The first map is not as particular as the official Toronto Bike Plan; it doesn't show a lot of the suburban bike lanes that the bike plan contains. Though it's refreshing to have another candidate that is actually willing to support this almost ten year old plan which has fallen behind. Her plan builds on the bike plan's signed routes by calling for bike boulevards criss-crossing the city on quieter streets. According to Wikipedia, a bike boulevard is "a shared roadway which has been optimized for bicycle traffic. In contrast with other shared roadways, bicycle boulevards discourage cut-through motor vehicle traffic, but typically allow local motor vehicle traffic." Hopefully, that is what she means by bike boulevards.
Someone on the Thomson has done her homework by incorporating bike boxes and something called "hook turns" for cyclists on the shared lane arterials, as well as reduced speeds on some of these roads. Transportation staff have already gotten approval to install bike boxes on some downtown intersections and there is also a hook turn for northbound cyclists turning left onto Bloor. A hook turn facilitates what most cyclists already do by allowing them to stop at the rightside crosswalk to wait for the lights to change so they can turn.
Thomson's plan isn't the final word, but at least it's a reasonable approach to making it safer and easier for cyclists on Toronto streets.