The Public Bike proposal passed the first hurdle by getting unanimous support from all councillors on the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. I gave a deputation to the committee on behalf of the Community Bicycle Network (which ran the popular Bikeshare, Toronto's original public bike program) in support of the Bixi Toronto proposal.
Bixi Toronto will, if it passes City Council next month, install 1000 bikes and 80 stations by May 2011. The whole system will likely operate closely to Montreal's version where users get a yearly, monthly or daily membership and then get a half hour of free riding after which hourly charges incur.
Councillor Adrian Heaps (who isn't on the committee) seemed to be still stuck on the idea that Astral Media would take on the whole project and was willing to risk a 2011 launch by proposing some amendments that would have forced staff to negotiate with Astral. His idea was that Astral would pay to increase the starting number of bikes to 3000 (presumably in exchange for more advertising on the streets). To paraphrase Councillor and Budget Chief Shelley Carroll, as nice as it would have been to start with 3000 instead of 1000, the proposal would have sent staff back to square one, renegotiating everything.
Who knows why the Chair of the Cycling Committee seems to be so out of the loop that at this late stage he's trying derail all the negotiating work the staff has done this last year. Methinks he's bitter about not getting the credit.
For the rest of us, this is a very good deal. It was said best by Councillor De Bearemaker:
"We are getting millions in new public infrastructure at no cost to the taxpayer. Not a bad deal at all," said Glenn De Bearemaeker, chair of the public works and infrastructure committee. "The only folks who may be upset about this is the taxi industry."
... and apparently Adrian Heaps.
Doug Vallery (not verified)
Wrong PriorityWed, 04/21/2010 - 11:01
We need to be focusing our attention on safe infrastructure for bicyclists - connected, long distance bicycle routes, lanes and pathways wherever possible off major arteries. We also need to get parked cars off major arteries, and off routes designated for bicycles.
My sense is that Toronto City Council focuses only on the traditional downtown. I live in Willowdale and I take my life into my hands cycling to work at Yonge & Eglinton. As far as I know, there are no safe bike routes across the 401. Crossing on- and off-ramps poses a significant risk - there should be safe bike corridors across such barriers.
Why we allow golf courses to preclude pathway connections is beyond me. In the Don Valley West corridor, the Don Valley and Rosedale Golf Courses are allowed to cut off pathway connections along the natural ravine corridor. What's with that? Very poor priority selection here!
Renting bikes (especially to tourists) has been an age-old entrepreneurial service - there isn't much new here. A significant concern is we are putting 1000 people on our unfriendly, poorly controlled streets with no helmets included in the rental offer! That is a recipe for disaster - what kind of health care and liability insurance is included in the rental fees?
And what about the issue of street furniture - how will these "facilities" to accommodate 1000 bicycles be inserted so as not to pose a barrier to our pedestrian traffic - another mode that deserves our support and protection?
Finally, attitude is everything. I have spoken to many cyclists who call Toronto one of the worst international cities to cycle in - basically because of attitude - the different "modes" of transportation have little respect for each other. Motorists use their vehicles as weapons; cyclists disobey every traffic law; pedestrians take huge risks. Let's have a public education campaign to end the inter-modal war on our streets, so everyone can move, commute and recreate safely!
focusing our attention?Wed, 04/21/2010 - 15:56
You say "focusing our attention" like we can only do one thing at once. It's like: "Should I go to work today, or should I eat? I have to focus and pick one or the other." You're thinking about this wrong-headed.
I counter that you don't understand bikesharing. It's not simply a rental scheme; and it's not targeted solely to tourists. It's meant to be a complementary form of public transit. Look up Bixi in Montreal to get a sense of what's proposed here. Bixi will be putting up all the money to get it started.
It will be starting in central Toronto because it has the density and friendly enough streets to make the start of the program successful. As it gets more popular it will expand out from there. Riding downtown can be crazy but it is far from being dangerous. Every day I see women, elders and youth bike by. Once you get used to it, cycling can be a good experience. It can be better with bike lanes, but it's not a disaster right now. I have heard from visitors the opposite response: that Toronto is actually a great place to cycle - good bike lanes; waterfront bike path; lots of bike parking; and lots of people biking downtown.
I agree about the golf courses. I believe that they have long term leases from the TRCA. You'd have to lobby the TRCA to have them force the golf courses to give priority to cyclists alongside. I'd be fully for that, since I've been stuck many times in the ravines with that problem.
A lot more could be done in the suburbs, for sure. (But a lot still needs to be done in the core as well). This year the City will finish the long paths along the Finch and Gatineau hydro corridors - these are major additions to the bikeway network. So North York and Scarborough are not being left out, far from it.