Toronto protected bike lane strategy: study, discuss, repeat. Meanwhile Ottawa just builds them

Ottawa actually builds protected bike lanes. In Toronto we like to think and talk about it a lot.

Peter got an explanation of how it works in Ottawa from a friend, Alanna Dale Hill, who is an assistant to Ottawa councillor, Mathieu Fleury. Ottawa decided that they could build protected bike lanes on Laurier Ave without an environmental assessment. Meanwhile, Toronto's Transportation Services decided that the lanes that City Council had approved in June 2011 for Richmond and Adelaide required a costly EA. But just when the EA was set to be completed they decided they should also do a pilot project (but only along pieces of the planned project).

The Richmond/Adelaide EA is costing the City millions and four lost years during which they could have implemented a pilot project as originally planned. Ottawa was able to do a much better evaluation with real data rather than speculating from a model. And now Ottawa has a protected bike lane with very little fuss.

What is Toronto's fascination with costly studies while other Canadian cities just build? Even when City Council approves bike lanes Transportation Services has found a way to make those approvals precarious.

According to Alanna:

The Laurier SBL did not require an EA. The City’s interpretation of the requirements is that the re-designation of an existing General Purpose Lane (GPL) to a reserved lane is exempt and also that the construction or operation of sidewalks or bike lanes within existing rights-of-way are also exempt. Temporary changes to capacity (such as construction detours) are also exempt and the project ran as a pilot for 2-years which was considered a temporary condition.

No repercussions for Ottawa going ahead without the "proper" studies. So what is Toronto, Canada's largest city, afraid of?

Comments

"...the construction of a bike lane is considered pre-approved, & only requires public notification prior to implementation."

Talk to Mike Layton 19, Adam Vaughan 20 & that useless Chr of PUblic Works Committee - Denzil Minnan-Wong. Build a bike rapport & make them an offer they can't refuse. Go Vegan Reduce yr carbon footprint or the earth gets it.

All part of Rob Ford's "streets are for cars" philosophy and beliefs.

In the west end not only are they not building bike lanes, they are being taken away. Recently work was done on the Lakeshore for the new TTC platforms. When it was over, the northbound bike lane that ended at 37th St. now ends at 36th with a new sign saying Lane ends. It picks up again for half block after 37th then ends for good.

I wish I could say Ottawa built on the success of the Laurier SBL. Unfortunately after showing that there is a demand for infrastructure, pilot project has been unqualified success. And implementing infrastructure needn't be very expensive or take a long time to implement. Ottawa has returned to cautious timid steps and is not building on Laurier's success.