Annex residents support separated bike lanes
Via BlogTO (which got it from the Annex Gleaner), I found out that the Annex Residents Association has published their Cycling Policy, calling for improved cycling infrastructure in their neighbourhood - bike lanes on Bloor from Avenue to Bathurst, separation of bike lanes from car traffic, contra-flow bike lanes on one-way streets, bike boxes, 30km/h zones, "Idaho rolling stops", and and so on (adopting many things from the Ward 20 bike advocacy report).
Albert Koehl, lawyer and Bells on Bloor founder, says:
“One of the big complaints that people have is that cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road. Our view in the policy is that if cyclists feel that they are being accepted and valued in their community, than they will start to feel a part of the community and obey its rules,”
The ARA policy complements the proposal by Minnan-Wong and the bike union for separated bike lanes, though along Bloor or Harbord it isn't without political opposition:
The most significant of these — which the ARA is careful to point out not all members support — involves the addition of dedicated/separated bike lanes in the area. That such infrastructure would likely necessitate the elimination of on-street parking isn't explicitly spelled out in the document, but given the size and nature of this stretch of road, it doesn't really have to be. If the notorious little section of Harbord just west of Spadina couldn't get regular bike lanes without jeopardizing street parking, it'd take some pretty creative engineering to add separated lanes without doing the same on Bloor.
BlogTO and the Gleaner point out that the Clean Air Partnership study of the economic impacts of bike lanes along Bloor in the Annex showed it to be a potential boon for stores.
Andrea Garcia, director of advocacy and operations for the Toronto Cyclists Union, sees the ARA’s policy as a great long-term goal. “I think this is a great policy,” said Garcia. One of the things that has kept them from implementing bike lanes sooner is the amount of street parking, Garcia said.
“Bike infrastructure is actually the cheapest form of transportation. It’s the most cost-effective infrastructure that moves the most people per dollar,” said Garcia.
The City of Toronto has also been making moves for more bike accessibility in the city. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong put forward a proposal to create a connected network of cycling routes along streets such as Wellesley and Richmond.
“We’ve already started doing some of the things listed in the policy” said Daniel Egan, manager of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure with the city’s transportation services.
“Rolling stops are a provincial issue that has to do with the Highway Traffic Act so that is out of our jurisdiction.”
The only thing that would be expensive are the physically separated lanes, Egan said.
Changing the speed limit to 30 km/h between Bathurst Street and Avenue Road on Bloor Street was also raised as a concern.
Bloor Street is a major arterial roadway and these changes would not satisfy criteria to maintain the flow of traffic in the area, said Ron Hamilton, manager at traffic operations of Toronto & East York District, Transportation Services at the City of Toronto.
Council will only reduce speed limits to 30 km/h if there are traffic calming measures on the road like speed bumps, Hamilton said. “Bloor Street is one of the only major streets that go from Scarborough all the way to Etobicoke,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton added that the existing infrastructure is already faulty, given that half the lanes are allocated to parking.
“One of our recommendations was for the Annex to be part of a city-wide bike plan,” said Frank Cunningham, the ARA chair of planning and zoning. “If Bloor Street was the only east-west bike artery in the city, it would defeat the purpose. There needs to be a network of bike lanes.”
Now we just need to work on the BIAs. I've heard that even where some businesses are bike-friendly and support bike lanes, the BIAs such as Yorkville and Harbord have been consistently ignorant of the needs of most cyclists, preferring to ignore them rather than accommodate them properly.