Connectivity, separated bike lanes and politicians waffling: right and left agree. Now let's build

Sherbourne separated bike lane and cyclist

I know that for many people progressive councillors in the last couple terms of council have promised a lot but delivered little. But Denzil [Minnan-Wong] is promising a lot but not delivering much either. I think Denzil has raised the issue of connectivity and separated bike lanes as a priority. I give him credit. It's separated bike lanes and not just bike lanes. When we build them now they will be separated and I think that's a good thing. But Denzil has promised a lot but delivered little.
-- Councillor Adam Vaughan at recent Joint Cycle TO wards meeting

Yes and yes and yes. Politicians haven't delivered much and the little we've gotten has been a struggle; neither left nor right has made it easy. Despite the problems we have with Councillor Eager-to-remove-Jarvis-bike-lanes Minnan-Wong, we can at least agree with Councillor Vaughan that Minnan-Wong has raised the bar by pushing for a connected, separated bike lane network. Torontonians are ready for something more than just a painted line.

Speaking of connectivity, the Harbord Village Residents Association is holding a public meeting to talk about the City's plan to install separated bike lanes through their domain (as part of the larger project to install them from Wellesley and Parliament all the way to Harbord and Ossington). There are currently no bike lanes at all between Spadina and Brunswick, let alone separated bike lanes. The meeting is Nov. 12, 7pm at 45 Brunswick (more info here).

Comments

It should be remembered that bicycle lanes or paths are still TRAVEL lanes. Lanes for the automobile are TRAVEL lanes, but so are bicycle lanes and sidewalks. There are people on those lanes, who could be customers.

Harbord, west of Bathurst to Ossington, was recently upgraded prior to the 2010 election as Joe kinda wanted to get the bike vote.

Ahead of that process, some of us were calling for filling the Harbord gap with bike lanes, but Yvonne B. as the Cyclists Union person was quite OK with the compromise/non-bike lane that was installed that has the 24-hour parking and a wider, single width travel lane with sharrows.

There's far greater need for the "then what" as Harbord reaches Ossington. Ossington bike lanes, and Bloor bike lanes west of Ossington, just with cheap paint, would do sooo so much more for more cyclists than a costly rebuilding of some of Harbord. And if one looks at crash stats, it's not really Harbord that has the problems, really.

And please note that the gap is from Borden, not Brunswick.

So why not fuss about a few dozen other things? Please! And it isn't just about Bloor; but Bloor has been logical for decades with crash stats to back it up.

Hamish, thanks for your concerns, but I think you've set up false choices.

As cycling advocates, we do not have the power to shift the direction of government if we have a change of heart. It's not a choice between A and B. What we've got is a choice between getting separated bike lanes on Harbord approved now, or getting nothing now.

Right now there is an agenda item at PWIC to approve separated bike lanes (aka cycle tracks) from Parliament to Queen's Park Circle; and a report stating that City Staff will be consulting this fall for completing the entire section from Queen's Park to Ossington in 2014!

What you're proposing is that this all be scrapped. And then by some unknown mechanism the City staff and politicians will just shift direction to whatever is B (as in Bloor?).

I think you'd find that most cyclists think Harbord cycle tracks is a Good Thing, and they're not willing to throw this away. Many other cities in North America - New York, Chicago, Vancouver, Ottawa - are investing in the same thing - improved separation of cyclists from cars on major routes. This is not unusual.

We still have a Mayor who doesn't like bike lanes and only grudgingly allowed these separated bike lanes to go forward. We have this opportunity now. In order to get something else significant now would require starting a whole new struggle against the powers that be.

Our best chance for Bloor is with the Annex Residents Association negotiating with business and politicians to get the first segment approved. But even then it won't happen before the next election. Cyclists want bike lanes on Bloor, but it's not going to come as easily as Harbord.

One step at a time.