“Uh, I’m gonna hold that one up,” said Councillor Bill Saundercook, raising his hand to put a hold on item 21 at last Wednesday’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting. The report in question was “2008 Bikeway Network Program – Phase 5 Installation of Bicycle Lanes [PDF],” and it’s likely that committee chair Glenn De Baeremaeker tensed up in the split-second before Saundercook, with perfect comic timing, dropped his punch line: “Just kidding.”
Many people in the room, including us, burst into laughter. It was nice to see that Saundercook had a sense of humour about last month’s (deserved) shitstorm. The bike lanes—along Lawrence Avenue East between Victoria Park in the west and Rouge Hills Drive, all the way on the other side of Scarborough, in the east—were then approved unanimously, with only minor amendments [PDF] to have the lanes “consistent with the Lawrence Avenue Study and the Lawrence Avenue Streetscape Plan” and to make the installation of the section in Councillor Ainslie’s ward coincide with next year’s road resurfacing. (Saundercook couldn’t have put a hold on the item himself, anyway, as he’s not a member of the committee and was only hanging around because they were dealing with his pet issue of water bottles.)
Nor were there any deputations, as is common for bike lane approvals, because this was a “New Business” item only added to the agenda on the morning of the meeting [PDF]; TCAT did turn out but left before the item came up—after six hours, seven if you include lunch, the committee was still only halfway through the list of deputants signed up to speak about packaging. We might not have noticed, either, had De Baeremaeker not brought it to our attention, as we helped ourselves to the pizza graciously purchased by the Deputy City Manager.
De Baeremaeker first told us about his ambition for a cross-Scarborough bike lane back in September, and we thought, yeah, that’d be a nice long-term goal. But by simply approaching each councillor along the route, he was able to obtain their blessings with only the aforementioned minimal concessions. Ideally, he’d like the route to stretch out at least as far west as the Don Valley (the Bike Plan has it almost reaching Avenue Road [PDF]), but that’s not yet possible for political reasons. The hope, though, is that this section will serve as a compelling argument for its own extension.
Most notably, however, this approval (which will be ratified by virtually every member of Council at their December 1–2 meeting) pushes the City over the top of its goal to approve lanes on 50 km worth of roads in 2008. There are arguments to be made that 50 km is a modest and arbitrary goal, but having failed to achieve even modest and arbitrary goals in the past, this is still a considerable accomplishment.
Bike lane table from the staff report [PDF]; bike plan map from the contextual attachment to that report [PDF]. Colour added by us.