Toronto's Official Plan is a powerful policy instrument that can help improve a city wide bikeway network over time and deal with the gaps in the network. We still have until Oct. 17 to provide feedback and suggestions for the plan in the City's short survey. This is a good place for us to tell policy makers what is our priority for the city.
If you are wondering how you can provide useful suggestions for the Official Plan, one place to start would be to identify gaps in the Bikeway Network and think of how those gaps could be closed (hey, you could even suggest they put back in the recently-voted-to-be-removed Jarvis, Pharmacy and Birchmount!).
Some examples of suggestions for the Official Plan:
- The waterfront Martin Goodman Trail is disjointed through Etobicoke and even worse in Scarborough because of private property blocking access to important trail linkages. Having gaps in the trail severely reduces the functionality of the trail for those who would like to use it for commuting or recreation. The Official Plan could specify that the City work towards buying up some houses or properties in order to provide a more direct route for cyclists and pedestrians along our waterfront.
- Connect Beverley bike lanes with future Richmond bike lanes. The City could identify a future bike path and sidewalk extension, through a future building, mid block where Beverley meets Queen Street West and Widmer meets Richmond Street West. This would connect cyclists and pedestrians to Richmond in a stretch with no convenient, direct route further south.
- Create a safer connection between potential Peter Street bike lanes northward to Phoebe Street. Right now there is a vacant parcel of land that is serving as a parking lot at the northwest corner of Soho Street and Queen Street West. This lot could have a bike path go directly through it to connect with Soho, and further north, Beverley bike lanes. Dave Meslin suggested this originally by borrowing an idea from the Hogeschool, Utrecht, where a bike lane goes right through a building.
The big advantage of the Official Plan is that it becomes much easier and cheaper for the City to require a "conveyance" of the public rights of ways. The changes can be demanded at no cost from the developer when the properties are redeveloped in the future. It can be hard to think that far ahead for some parts of the city, but in the downtown new condos and office buildings are being developed relatively quickly. Now's a good time to think big. What can the Official Plan do to make cycling easier and safer in your neighbourhood?