City Council on March 5th adopted the plan for Front Street with a more pedestrian friendly design that reduces the width to two wider lanes. Yet in the process they ignored the needs of cyclists by not including bike lanes, and even made access to Union Station worse by moving bike parking and BIXI stations away. What it did keep intact is loading and taxi zones and even places for cars to do u-turns, all of which meant something had to be compromised, namely bike lanes.
At the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) meeting on February 15th cyclists got a brief reprieve from a plan that was more or less excluding cyclists. PWIC agreed to get more input to see how the Front Street in front of Union Station Plan could be made safer and more convenient for cyclists. The Acting General Manager of Transportation Services was to report directly to City Council on comments from the Design Review Panel with respect to the recommended reconfiguration. The main concern was the exclusion of cycling-specific infrastructure - no bike lanes and less bike parking were to be the rule - so the comments were to address this concern. However and perhaps conveniently, the Acting General Manager was unable to meet with the Design Review Panel to discuss these concerns. The Panel calendar was just full booked up. So instead of delaying the decision until the panel could meet, full steam ahead with a token response to cyclists:
The Design Review Panel (DRP) did not have any scheduled meetings between the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting on February 15, 2012 and this Council meeting. Therefore, there was no opportunity to present this proposal to the full Panel. Staff attempted to arrange a meeting with the Chair and the Vice-Chair of the DRP as an alternate plan but, unfortunately, they were unavailable to meet during this time.
The process for improving Front Street in front of Union Station started under Mayor Miller. It appears that not even for Miller was cycling a priority enough to insist that the City planners take the Bike Plan and Metrolinx guidelines for cycling access seriously. It seems that cyclists were mostly in a blindspot during Miller's tenure at City Hall, as they are under Ford as well.
Much was done under Miller to improve transit but the implementation of the Bike Plan and the incorporation of cycling into all new infrastructure has suffered. We can't just call out our Mayor and suburban councillors who are vocally against bike lanes. Downtown councillors have also done little - and some have actively obstructed bike lanes - compared to councillors in other North American cities. Toronto will soon fall further behind and we will continue to struggle to get councillors to even consider separated bike lanes as necessary while cities like Chicago and New York go full speed ahead. If you want to feel sad for Toronto, just read Chicago's 2012 plan for separated bike lanes in this year alone.
dances_with_traffic (not verified)
I don't need to read aboutFri, 03/16/2012 - 16:16
I don't need to read about Chicago, I already know they're mopping the floor with Toronto. Chicago has been a somewhat solid source of urban planning. Look at their highway systems.
The sort of urban planning going on in Toronto is so lowest common denominator. It's not even one step about a dusty wild west town. Sure the politicians make a show of not pandering to private interests, but when it comes down to it build what you want where you want and the muppets will buy it. Be sure to give the finger or throw wrenches into any thought out and unified transit plan so you can increase parking in front of your place by 3 spots. Remember if you don't have to hear about them in the media or they can't cost you an election they don't matter.
Idiots are in charge.
Those cabs are an awful smelly polluting traffic blocking mess. Even with their own lane they'll still clog traffic. Just you wait. City council should have put them in a lot somewhere else instead of encouraging them to end up right in front of your main transit terminal.
Mondesi (not verified)
Union Station, and theSun, 03/18/2012 - 06:15
Union Station, and the East-West strip in front of it is not meant to be a throughfare. You either go IN or OUT of Union. That's the point. People get dropped off and picked up there by taxis and cars. Why the hell would you have a need to cycle through it?
dances_with_traffic (not verified)
Bike lanes because you wantSun, 03/18/2012 - 14:13
Bike lanes because you want to go east or west on Front st. on a bicycle or take mass transit to union station and then use a bicycle to get around the downtown.
Further a single lane east and west on Front with people getting in and out of cabs and those cabs entering and exiting traffic flow. Please, somebody cue the slow applause and the sound of all the future doorings/pedestrian accidents.
It's not a very future proof plan.
fabien (not verified)
Toronto. We don't have oil.Sun, 03/18/2012 - 21:37
Toronto. We don't have oil. We are quickly losing manufacturing jobs. If we dom't put in place a progressive infrastructure to attract and retain creative talent (services, software, etc...) which is largely urban and commited to bike transportation, how are we exactly expecting to stay relevant? These Toronto politicians are dinosaurs and a road block to Toronto's productivity and potential as a creative centre for the 21st century.
hamish (not verified)
This approval isn't good newsTue, 03/20/2012 - 11:56
This approval isn't good news for cyclists, but it's almost worse news for transit, as there was this great Opportunity for a Front St. transitway I was promoting a few years back as an option to the quarter-billion Front St. Extension, now removed, and it involved restoring transit to Front St., and there was also a good plan, called the Downtown Relief Line that involved putting a subway under Front St. and is the reason why the CBC studios are atop their building, to avert vibrations. So relative to a cost of a subway, the $5M of ripping everything up or whatever cost it will be, is minor.
More serious is the constraining of options for ped improvement within the limited terms of Ref of the EA - so that they didn't look at closing off Bay St. for motorised traffic in rush hours from the Lakeshore up to Richmond Adelaide, and letting all the pedestrians just walk on the road.
It's nice to have some company in criticizng the green mayor's bike commitments, and also a note that the core councillors ain't all that pro-bike despite rhetoric, and I now spell blind with a "p" eg. blindp...
A key example is Councillor Vaughan, though not so officially NDP. In the John St. rebuild that was also on the same PWIC agenda, and subject of another post, he claimed in a printed email to other councillors that bike lanes on Peter St. and Simcoe St. were "approved" - but do we actually have Council approval for these bike lanes? I may have missed some things being a bit focussed on Bloor St. and that option, and there's also a distinction between in the Bike Plan approved, Councillor approved, and Council approved.
Prior to any appeal to the Environment Minister for an Individual EA, a faint hope, I'd really like to know if I'm wrong about the Simcoe and Peter St. bike lanes being approved or not, and I guess I can resend the query to Mr. Vaughan and research more myself, but in case any one knows a clear and specific approval/time, it'd be great please.
the lemur (not verified)
It kinda looks like theThu, 03/22/2012 - 13:55
It kinda looks like the situation is worse for everyone. If there are still going to be two TTC bus routes serving Union, that 'private vehicle and bus' area is going to get crowded. Pedestrian traffic is not just about the area between Union Station and the Royal York and wider sidewalks at the corners don't really address that fact. Front St is, for better or worse, an important conduit for car traffic between University/York and Bay (and also Front) - things are not going flow any more smoothly than they do now, and certainly not for any surface transit that might be added to Front.
I am sick and tired of theSat, 03/24/2012 - 13:38
I am sick and tired of the City Hall shenanigans.
I fuss no more for one frigging tree, I go for the Forest...
Please, go for it! Sign our Petition on " Legislation for Alternative Transportation in Ontario" , that will over-ride all City Halls and their contradictory and conflicting urban planning.
Barbara cyclist (not verified)
What are they thinking!! MyTue, 03/27/2012 - 15:56
What are they thinking!! My friend lives in NY and he is loving how well the city is set up for bikes. He got a lot fitter since he got there and he says it is not dangerous to ride. Why can't Toronto not follow the path of the greates cities on earth?
Random cyclist (not verified)
Yes, we need bike lanes inFri, 04/06/2012 - 15:06
Yes, we need bike lanes in front of Union Station, because when I get off a train from Montreal or any other destination, I with my suitcases will be cycling home. Get a grip you idiots.
the lemur (not verified)
You mean Front St isn't alsoFri, 04/06/2012 - 19:07
You mean Front St isn't also a street that will be used by thousands of other people every day who have no interest in Union Station and merely want to get from University to Bay or vice versa?
Random: Too much coffee? NotFri, 04/06/2012 - 17:13
Random: Too much coffee? Not enough coffee???
Union Station serves thousands of folks that travel without suit cases. Like the daily commuters that use the Go Train. For fun, monitor the load on the Bixi stations down there and you'll see that they pulse in sync with the rush hour.
Back to the topic: the planners sure are screwing up if they don't make adequate allowance for bike infrastructure at Union Station.
Metrolinx had also submittedThu, 04/12/2012 - 01:07
Metrolinx had also submitted comments on February 29, 2012, that strongly suggested improved bicycle facilities at this mobility hub. Link to Metrolink's letter: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/comm/communicationfile-29055.pdf. And to see latest comment from Jason Diceman (City of Toronto's Public Consultation Unit) on this, go to this Facebook group: Changes to Front Street at Union Station.