A few days ago I posted this photo on Twitter after coming across the sign last weekend in the Rouge Valley in Scarborough.
The organization who gave this silver award to Toronto, Share the Road, defended their program. The majority of the people responded, however, were not convinced. The average person in Toronto would probably be surprised that Toronto got a silver rating as a Bicycle Friendly Community.
The average person will probably think of sports medals of gold, silver, bronze and all those who didn't podium. A silver, in many minds, is just one step away from being awesome; best in the world. Most Torontonians, however, will never bike in most parts of Toronto, because cycling is perceived as dangerous. This is not surprising even the almost complete lack of cycling infrastructure in most parts of the city. So the silver award is very incongruous to the facts on the ground.
The fact, remains that it's very easy to travel between most destinations in Toronto and not see any cycling infrastructure. Even downtown the majority of our arterial roads have little to no bike lanes. And even the ones that have bike lanes are discontinuous. A bike lane that ends is not much more useful than nothing at all, and sometimes it hurts since it raises the expectations of safety for the cyclist and then just leaves them for the wolves.
The Share the Road program is derived from the League of American Bicyclists' program which operates nation-wide in the US. While the LAB program openly publishes its ranking criteria, Share the Road says theirs is "proprietary" so we don't really know how they rank.
NOT Share the Road's. Theirs is mostly a mystery.
If we go by LAB's criteria it would highly unlikely that Toronto could meet a silver rating. It falls behind in modeshare (less than 2%); number of bike staff per 70,000 residents, and the ratio of bicycle network to roads. (Though I suspect that in the latter category they probably allow for roads where all it takes is slapping up a sign that says "Bike Route".) But we'll never know for sure since Share the Road neither publishes their criteria and grading, nor published a report card of how Toronto has met or not met the criteria. Meanwhile LAB publishes report cards for many American cities, such as this one for Seattle, which breaks down Seattle's ranking into each category and also describes what the city can do to reach Platinum level. Looks like Seattle needs to do a lot.
I'm not a fan of LAB's ranking system either, but compared to LAB, Share the Road's program looks amateurish and looks more like just giving out gold stars to everyone who wants them. #goldstarsforeveryone Perhaps that's not true, but Share the Road has its work cut out to convince me otherwise.
David Juliusson (not verified)
Share the Roads should removeFri, 03/20/2015 - 10:05
Share the Roads should remove our Cycling Friendly Community designation. There is lots of good talk, but very little action. Toronto is not a cycling friendly community
We have had a bike plan for well over a decade. Unanimous through council. Even Rob Ford voted for it. Has it been implemented? Not really. We get alot of good talk but very little action.
It is interesting when politicians try and explain it to school children how the routes to make it safe for them to get to school were approved before they were born but will not be completed until after they graduate. Maybe their children will get to benefit from them.
I have been to many public consultations, especially around the Mimico 20 project. Reality the decisions were already made. We were essentially window dressing.
I had thought we could get some impetus from the Pan Am Games. People from my area made some very good suggestions for the area around Centennial park. It would be easy to fix. The silence has been deafening. They might get to it in 2016.
In Etobicoke Creek there is an 800 m. stretch that can be done. The money is in place, politicians like it, the TRCA has approved it. Missisisauga has stated that once it is done they will continue on their side of the creek past the airport. Peel is interested in taking it from there. A possible 30+kilometer continuous route. The Ministry of Transportation is the problem. They have thrown many roadblocks up for years. As one of their representatives stated "you know our job is cars".
My personal irritant is the Lakeshore. In 1998 John Vandenberg was killed at Lakeshore and Royal York. That was the impetus for the Lakeshore being added to the Bike Plan. In 2013 Sue Trainor died on the stretch that was to have a bike lane. Even getting their names is difficult. Uually dead cyclist don't even merit that in reports or on the news. Sue Trainor was listed as female in her twenties even though she was 50+. Our government swung into action to protect cyclists. A report will come out this spring on getting a bike lane. .
Until we get some concrete action, not just words we are not deserving of a Bicycling Friendly community designation
W. K. Lis
Since they use the wordFri, 03/20/2015 - 13:17
Since they use the word "Community", maybe it should be broken down to wards or streets.
selkie (not verified)
what crap - tell them to comeSun, 03/22/2015 - 10:51
what crap - tell them to come and bike with me from the financial district east - bloody Death Race 2015...between dodging cars, faded out lines (which no one pays attention to anyway)- snow pushed all winter in the bike lanes- aided and abetted by cars which park IN the bike lane as they don't clear the snow from the side of the road and closures due to CONSTANT movies which take up BLOCKS of the supposed bike lane to the City digging up the street (constantly) and arrogant bloody cops ...
hamish (not verified)
Glad you've taken on thisSun, 03/22/2015 - 16:00
Glad you've taken on this challenging of these awards - maybe overdue, but quite correct in pegging the very dubious quality and standards for awards. It seemed to depend if there was a conference or some opportunity for self-promotion vs. truth. I think the Caronto award was given at the same year that the number of on-road bke lanes declined. Sure, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but it's far more like "paths in our time" vs. reality-based look at the context. In Caronto, that means 30 years of ignoring the crash stats showing real problems on the east-west direction/main roads.