At yesterday's Public Works and Infrastructure meeting, positive advancements were made for the separated bike lane plan and the City-wide trails plan. The update on the Wellesley Cycle Tracks project was approved and the scope was expanded:
- PWIC directed the General Manager of Transportation Services to "expand the scope of the consultation, design and installation of the Wellesley Street Cycle Track Project to Parliament Street in the east and to St. George Street in the west." That is, this planning phase would include separated bike lanes on Hoskin.
- In response to Councillor McConnell's request PWIC decided that "consult with the Ward Councillors on the design and the consultation process for the portions of the separated bicycle lanes that are located in their Wards."
- Councillor Minnan-Wong made a motion to direct the GM to "assist in the consultation and design of separate bike lanes on Harbord Street between Ossington Avenue and St. George Street and report back to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee in the first quarter of 2013."
Politically, cyclists made some successes here. Completing cycle tracks on the whole length of Wellesley-Hoskin-Harbord from Parliament to Ossington will be a great boon to cyclists. Harbord is already the second busiest bike route in the city. This will help fill in the gap at Spadina to Bathurst, better connect Wellesley and Hoskin and make it a safer and more comfortable trip.
I hope that we don't get bogged down in consultation as it seems now that there might be separate consultations in each ward. Though I am encouraged that councillors are now starting to see how much people want separated bike lanes, off-street paths and quiet residential boulevards, both as cyclists and as "near cyclists" (the people who are likely to start biking if conditions improve).
Councillor Vaughan has come out as completely supportive of separated bike lanes on Hoskin. Vaughan said to me by email yesterday, "We totally support separated bike lanes to St George along Hoskin west of Queen's Park. No more consultation is needed." Vaughan had also reportedly stated that he would support separated bike lanes on Beverley, Peter and Simcoe in return for support on the pedestrianization of John Street.
Kudos to Councillor Vaughan for supporting separated bike lanes! We may not have agreed on where they should go but Vaughan's support for these lanes plus his other Ward 20 bike lane proposals means that he's committed to getting cycling improvements to his ward and they are complementary to the main separated bike lane network.
There will now be a seperate public consultation process for work on Harbord-Hoskin from work now scheduled to be done for Wellesley in 2013. Since Harbord-Hoskin has been approved by PWIC for planning the City's Downtown Bikeways Upgrade map has been expanded.
The City-wide Trails plan was adopted, with motions centred on ensuring public consultaiton work for each section, and the inclusion of local councillors. This is a good thing. Many downtown cyclists don't see a direct benefit for many of the trail improvements (myself included unless I'm making a longer trip to the suburbs). Some are pointing out that too much money is being put into trails that serve fewer people than downtown and that the trails won't be ploughed in winter or lighted. These are good points though instead of looking at ways to divide a small budget in a different ways, we should be calling for an even bigger cycling budget. Given the obesity health problem in our city, good suburban infrastructure is critical just as much as downtown cycling infrastructure is critical for safety. Most of the improvements in the trails infrastructure were already identified in the Bike Plan, and were always seen as important. But point well taken that we don't want to implement them at the expense of safe routes elsewhere.
Along with the trails approval, a motion was adopted to review the feasability of signal improvements at Strachan Avenue and the Waterfront Trail. The GM will report "on the installation of a northbound bicycle crossing within the signalized intersection of Lake Shore Boulevard West at Strachan Avenue to facilitate cyclists accessing the northbound bicycle lanes on Strachan Avenue from the Martin Goodman Trail." As a key access point for downtown cyclists and pedestrians to the waterfront, it's great news to see some progress being made to make this a safer and more usable intersection. Councillor Layton facilitated this motion on behalf of Ward 19 residents.
I hope the City can improve the pace of the work by bring consultants on board to deal with the backlog of off-street and on-street bike routes approved. On y va!