A disappointing bikeway network report and things we can do to improve it.

The Bikeway Network Report for 2011 came out yesterday. Overall it's a big letdown, though I'm happy to see that Sherbourne, Bloor Viaduct and Wellesley are proposed to get protected bike lanes. The Chair of Public Works was calling for something more ambitious, at least for the downtown, but the staff seem to prefer to cautiously "assess" and "study" Richmond and Adelaide instead of even proposing to removing any car traffic lanes or parking, safely stating that the Mayor will only support bike lanes that don't "impede" traffic. The report will also be asking the committee to make a decision on the Scarborough bike lanes on Pharmacy and Birchmount, which have been shown to have little negative effect on car traffic.

The bike union made this statement:

This report was released today and the Toronto Cyclists Union, representing over 1,100 members, is disappointed with the lack of progress in the report. It is not bold enough to address the needs of hundreds of thousands of Torontonians who ride bicycles. In fact, several of the recommendations outlined in the report set the City back on cycling progress. While other cities are moving forward at a great pace to improve conditions for cyclists as part of an overall transportation plan, Torontonians who ride bicycles are being left behind.

Read more to find out what we're facing, but please send out an email to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee to support the Bike Union's recommendations for improving it (see below for details).

The Star summarizes the disappointing report:

We’re disappointed with the lack of progress in the report,” said Andrea Garcia, spokeswoman for the Toronto Cyclists Union, referring to a staff report going to the public works committee next week.

“We don’t see it as bold enough to address the needs of hundreds of thousands of Torontonians who ride bicycles.”

Among the recommendations are:

• Install separated bike lanes on Bloor St. E. from Sherbourne St. to Broadview Ave. this year.
• Prepare a detailed design and consultation process for separated bike lanes on Sherbourne St. and Wellesley Sts. with a goal of building them in 2012.
• “Assess” putting a separated east-west lane on Adelaide or Richmond Sts. from Bathurst to Sherbourne St., and a separated north-south lane in “the most suitable route” within the corridor from Peter to Simcoe Sts.
• Install bike lanes on Dawes Rd. from Danforth to Victoria Park Aves.
• Consider removing bike lanes (as requested by Councillor Michelle Berardinetti) on Pharmacy Ave., from Denton Ave. to Alvinston Rd.; and on Birchmount Rd. from Kingston Rd. to St. Clair Ave. E.
• Halt an environmental assessment that could pave the way for a major Bloor-Danforth Bikeway and rescind approval for bike lanes on Bloor St. W.
• Endorse “the mayor’s bike plan” that would build 100 kilometres of bike trails in ravines, hydro corridors and other off-street routes.

There is something we can do, we can call or email our councillors, or send an email to the PWIC or request to speak at the committee meeting on June 23rd in support of the Bike Union's 4 recommendations. The committee meeting is on June 23rd 9:30am, City Hall, Committee Room 1. These are reasonable recommendations, I believe:

  1. That City Council and PWIC re-establish the Bloor-Danforth Bikeway Environmental Assessment on the basis of significant community support.
  2. That City Council provide direction to City Staff to not remove the Pharmacy and Birchmount bike lanes on the grounds of public safety and respect for the taxpayer.
  3. That City Council and PWIC direct City staff to report to the September 2011 meeting of PWIC on a pilot project for separated bicycle lanes on Richmond Street and/or Adelaide Street to inform the larger overall transportation operations study of the area.
  4. That City Council and PWIC direct City staff to report to the September 2011 meeting of PWIC with an implementation plan for a connected network of protected bicycle lanes that includes two east-west routes and two north-south routes.

Comments

My comment elsewhere probably should be moved here if possible.

I will add that the more I study the proposal for bi-directional lanes, the less I like them. The bikes going in the "contra" direction (e.g. if the lanes are on the west side of Sherbourne, the northbound riders are "contra") will have oncoming bicycles a metre on their left, and oncoming cars, separated by a curb of (typically) half a metre, on their right. "Pulling over" in that situation isn't going to be fun.

By the way, one problem that's not immediately apparent is that car headlights are aimed to the right of the car. This means that the "contra" riders get the full benefits of glare from headlights of oncoming cars at night. This is an issue on the Martin Goodman in the west end between the Legion and Sunnyside. I have ridden westbound on nights with poor weather. With the lights of eastbound cars glinting off my glasses and generally glaring in my eyes, damned if I can see much of anything as I ride. I really hope no one has set up new bollards, never mind joggers or cyclists dressed in ninja black with no lights.

Why do the powers-that-be think that bicycles are recreational vehicles only? Is that why there are new trails along river valleys and hydro corridors? What about bike lanes (separated or otherwise) along the suburban arterial roads where they are needed, and not just for recreation purposes.

Even though I live far from the Hydro corridors, I have no issue with paths being created in them. They'll make great weekday training rides, or weekend dog walks. The Finch corridor may even make it possible to bicycle to Seneca's Finch/404 campus (assuming you start from someplace that can reasonably access the corridor path).

However, the location of the paths certainly skews them to recreational use. I rode down from Seneca to the lake shore via the Don River paths, and it was fun for a while and then tedious, despite the nice scenery.

Not much of the park/hydro corridor system will be useful for transportation purposes. And I don't see a huge demand for cross-town bicycling routes north of Finch.

Thanks to the Bike Union for taking a strong stance on the City's report.

As a resident of the burbs, I am pissed that two existing bike lanes shall get removed: this sets a precedent and expectation that threatens any progress we have made til now in the non-core areas of Toronto.

The cyclists of the burbs are being relegated to recreational use only or maybe hesitantly accommodated when a city budget isn't impacted (like the hydro corridor work that's funded by federal money). We are not getting good governance for our tax money - we get thrown under the bus, literally!

Thank you Toronto for the Finch Hydro Corridor! As a student who takes public transit to York University everyday, but could just as easily cycle there - the corridor is a godsend. Cycling down Steeles Ave or Finch Ave in rush hour traffic is asking to be killed. I for one WILL be using the corridor as a commuting path. (Would like to see bike lanes on these major arterial roads as well though.)

At least they are moving in the right direction. They are acknowledging the cyclist more. I for one am happy that we will be getting separated bike lanes. But of course, more is better