Update - The Squad's pink lanes got some props in New York City on Streetsblog!
A few pretty pink Penny Farthings showed up on Bloor street last week along with a lovely matching stripe.
This new pink bike lane is in homage to female cyclists in Toronto, and comes to you courtesy of the Other Urban Repair Squad.
Studies have shown that although both men and women would rather not ride on roads without bicycle facilities, women are much more uncomfortable on roads with no bike lanes.
I applaud the activists who are stencilling their own bike lanes on Toronto streets. The city, with an ample budget for bike paths but without the leadership to implement a plan, needs a good kick in the pants for its abject inaction. Bikes are great for the environment and for our health, so what’s not to like? It’s time to protect bicyclists with bike lanes. - Don Tai, Toronto
After 10 years of fighting off aggressive and inattentive car and SUV drivers and risking my neck for a couple of feet of pavement, I have become almost ready to give up my daily bicycle commute to work. So I welcome actions, like lane painting by the Other Urban Repair Squad, that highlight the outrageous fact that drivers continue to be given priority over cyclists, even as we face a smog and climate crisis. - Michael Polanyi, Toronto
While I don’t condone vandalism, I must applaud the creativity of the Other Urban Repair Squad. Toronto is years behind other cities in becoming cycling friendly. For a city with a poor environmental report card, this is an area where it could improve upon. Now, if only the activists had painted a bike lane on Yonge St., I would be ditching my Metropass in favour of my bike this summer. Until that happens, I fear for my life any time I try to bike to work. - Colin Haubrich, Toronto
Does the Other Urban Repair Squad take requests? We sure could use a bike lane on Bayview Ave. No rush – any time this summer would be good. Many thanks. - Marjorie Nichol, Toronto
Clearly, cyclists are tired of waiting. The squads see implementation of cycling infrastructure as a survival issue. The streets are no longer safe for cyclists — especially new cyclists. Here are the most recent statistics from the Toronto Police. A cyclist is injured (or, more accurately, reports being injured) approximately every 9 hours in Toronto.
Although I am not a member of any of the squads, I completely understand their frustration.
I see this political act as a dynamic and creative way of expressing that frustration — and providing a solution. (Note that cyclists are riding in the bike lane in both pictures.)
Implementing cycling infrastructure would provide the most immediate and cost-effective solution to air quality and transportation ills in our city.
You want to ease traffic congestion? Install bike lanes and make provisions for bikes on all transit. The Bike Plan is only the beginning. And, I understand that the squads do plan on filling in the oft-noted “gaps” in the network set out in the Bike Plan.
You want to decrease smog in the city? Install bike lanes and provide clean air corridors on days when the air is bad.
Recently, the executive director of the League of American Bicyclists testified before U.S. Congress to emphasize how bicycling can help solve America’s climate change issues. There are huge air quality benefits in converting short trips by motorized to non-motorized forms of transport.
In Toronto, money has been allocated to the Bike Plan for years and it has simply not been spent. The Mayor vowed that the Bike Plan would be top priority, yet cycling was not recognized in the 2007 operating budget.
So after years of inaction and broken promises by the City, cyclists aren’t left with many choices but to do the work for them. The Urban Repair Squads are just showing the City how easy it can be.
Top photo courtesy of the Toronto Star. Bottom photo courtesy of the bikelanediary.