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Downtown Bike Plans for 2010 Revealed

If city cycling staff get their way, downtown will be transformed by cycling projects in 2010. Partly to accommodate the planned launch of the public bike program and partly to address concerns over the way the Bikeway Network has been assembled piece by disconnected piece over the years, staff are concentrating this year’s efforts on a comprehensive and dense network of cycling infrastructure south of Dupont between High Park and the Don Valley.
More than 150 cyclists packed a meeting room at Metro Hall last night to learn what goodies (and battles) the year ahead will bring. Considerable applause greeted city engineer Lukasz Pawlowski’s announcement of proposed separated bike lanes on University Avenue, including buffer zones and bollards or other physical barriers separating them from automotive traffic. Other significant projects include installing previously approved lanes (including those on Jarvis Street), filling the Harbord Street bike lane gap between Spadina and Borden, adding bike boxes at several intersections, and possibly replacing the uselessly narrow curb lines on Spadina with properly placed sharrows.
Staff will also be concentrating on projects that don’t require council approval: continuing bike lane markings straight through intersections on existing and new routes (which will be the standard design for all new bike lanes) and adding sharrows on many downtown streets. Sharrows will also be added to the middle of the curb lanes on streetcar routes, encouraging cyclists to take the lane on roads where there just isn’t enough room to share safely. Additionally, the city has recently posted a Request for Proposals to conduct an Environmental Assessment of a bikeway along entire Bloor–Danforth corridor from Kipling Avenue in the west to Kingston Road in the east, to be awarded in April and completed in 2011, largely preventing it from becoming an election issue.
After the formal presentation, Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) told the room that “staff should be complimented on a very bold and ambitious plan,” adding that the comprehensive vision “makes it pretty politically challenging” and urging cyclists to sell the plan to their councillors, at committee meetings, at public consultations, and even in coffee shops.
Staff’s plan will go to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee in April and City Council in May, with work slated to start in June. Reflecting on the proposals, one jaded member of the public asked the obvious question: “Is there really political will,” for all of these changes downtown? Nervous laughter from both staff and the public said it all.


  • bikingtoronto

    Great post Val. I wasn’t able to make the meeting, but picked most of this up via twitter last night. :)
    Great news about University Avenue… and sharrows everywhere will help drivers think about cyclists more… even if they aren’t as effective as bikelanes.

  • http://undefined Usus

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Where are the Queen’s Quay separated bike lanes?

  • http://undefined mark.

    I can’t help but feel skeptical. I see in the article that they can paint the sharrows without council approval, but the rest does require approval. With University Ave proposal, I don’t see how it could be approved and construction at least started by the election. Couldn’t the new gov’t toss it aside? Any idea about the time line or at least when council will begin debating these plans?

  • bikingtoronto

    Guys… think positively. yeah, there’s a chance things won’t get done… but instead of moaning about that possibility, it’s more productive if we all work TOWARDS making it happen. :)
    Usus – Queens Quay is still on track to get done via Waterfront Toronto. I believe they just completed the EA for it… not sure if construction is starting in 2010 or 2011.

  • http://undefined Ben

    Guys… think positively. yeah, there’s a chance things won’t get done…

    Yes, there’s a 100% chance that things won’t get done. If it wasn’t an election year, it would be a 90% chance.

  • Mark Ostler

    A full revamp of Queen’s Quay is currently in the planning stages. I believe an environmental assessment has already been completed. The plans include separated bike lanes, but I believe the project is being spearheaded by Waterfront Toronto, rather than the city’s own transportation services.

  • Paul Kishimoto
    Guys… think positively. yeah, there’s a chance things won’t get done…

    Yes, there’s a 100% chance that things won’t get done. If it wasn’t an election year, it would be a 90% chance.

    “No, I choose to think negatively,” is shorter.

  • Val Dodge

    Any idea about the time line or at least when council will begin debating these plans?

    According to staff, and as I wrote:

    Staff’s plan will go to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee in April and City Council in May, with work slated to start in June.

  • http://undefined woowah

    This is great news! And to all the naysayers, we shouldn’t let our skepticism kill the project before it’s even officially proposed.

  • http://undefined jnyyz

    re: proposed bike lanes to be brought forward to PWIC in April
    In response to my question, they said that there will be public consultations on various pieces before the April meeting. These are the opportunities to mobilize public support in advance of the PWIC meeting. Otherwise, the bike lanes can be shot down or tabled, as was done repeatedly for Annette St.

  • http://undefined Darren

    I love that picture. Thats where I tranfer from Dundas to River then to Shuter.
    I’ll ride on bike lanes on sides street everyday weather permiting but I’ll never ride on arterial roads. There is a place for everything in this world, and my butt on a bike has no placr on Jarvis or Danforth

  • http://undefined mark.

    Gah! Sorry! Usually I’m a much better reader.
    I see my comment came across as sarcastic – I didn’t mean for that… I’m genuinely interested in when council will begin debating it. I will do what I can to support these plans.

  • http://undefined mark.

    I will keep my ears open for when these meetings occur and will attend to show my support.

  • http://undefined Mark

    Separated bike lanes on University? Really? REALLY?
    Look, I’m a bike-commuting nutcase, but that sounds completely insane to me. Between that and the Jarvis reconstruction, where do they expect north-south car traffic to go?
    I suppose it’d be okay if they expropriated and bulldozed a few houses and finally finished the Spadina Expressway.

  • Darren

    Exactly. People Eglinton to Rosedale cant fit on packed subway trains. Unfortunately some people cant help but drive from those areas of TO. Other then the potential elimination of the extra fare for the Mount Pleasant Express, the city has done nothing to address their need.

  • http://undefined suzanne

    Many of those people could… bike. And that would leave a lot more room for the cars of those with mobility issues, who seem to me to have a more legitimate claim than most for continuing to use cars. The rest of us need to get over it already and stop driving. Cars pollute, kill on a large scale, and the infrastructure they demand makes for sucky cities, so let’s stop it already. And I schlep two kids under the age of five around, so don’t give me that bs; and if you’re ‘way too busy,’ cut your hours and make less money and chill the fuck out.
    But yes, you’re absolutely correct that we need more transit. And the fact is, part of how that will happen is that journeys by car will become – MUST become – less and less convenient, and transit will become more and more crowded.

  • http://undefined mark.

    I suggest that the vehicle traffic on University Ave (at least from Bloor south) isn’t great enough to warrant the width it is now. Of course, some kind of study would have to be done to “prove” or convince people (but facts rarely matter). Next time you’re walking down by the museum or Queen’s Park, take a few minutes and watch the cars go by. I find there will be a pack of cars rushing along, side by side, then a rather long period of no traffic. I imagine that reducing part or a full lane of traffic would make very little difference to vehicle travel-time.
    I have visions of Highway 11A no longer bisecting U of T and Queen’s Park: the eastern side of Queen’s Park Crescent would be two-way, and the entire western part of Queen’s Park Crescent be given over to bike and pedestrian paths – paths modelled on the routes already inscribed in the ground. Years ago it used to only run on the east side. We could even revive a bit of Taddle Creek where philosopher’s walk ends/starts. “Philosopher’s Pond.”
    As you’re walking around down there, check out the sign at Queen’s Park Crescent and Hoskin, then the same one a little further south near the “Metro” overpass where U of T student’s want to cross the streets: “Pedestrians wait for gap.”
    A rather small, everyday life sort of thing, but these signs speak volumes.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    Sanctioned jaywalking indeed. It’s a very pedestrian-hostile area in an otherwise pedestrian-friendly campus.
    Suzanne has it right. There is a certain absolute level of traffic in single-occupant vehicles that is sustainable in the city. Poor traffic flow indicates we’re already above it. Short-term measures to accommodate more vehicles put no dent in the need to increase transit capacity and promote alternate modes of transportation.

  • Darren

    Suz, biking isnt for everyone. I bike because I have a gym d/t where I change and shower and then head off to work. Many people dont have that option or the time, nor should we expect to do so as we cant dictate how people live there lifes. There is also the weather issue. There are cyclists on the road this then there were last week with the milder weather. Its an unreliable option.
    We need to do more then just say “transit sucks”. A suburbanite can get to Union via GO train quicker the many people in midtown can get to the same location. And no one in city hall is addresing, and we in the city who pay their salary.
    Cars are needed in every city. Its a sign of a healthy city that can balance serveral different ways of getting around. Arterial roads exit in even the most transit friendly of cities around the world. The grid network of one way streets in NYC helps moves surfance vehicles like car, cabs, and buses. Improving transit does not have to mean reducing those arterial roads.

  • http://undefined MattAlexander

    If you want something to happen but you’re afraid it won’t happen, then Make It Happen.
    Make cycling an election issue, not just for the Mayor’s race but for councillors as well.
    Make it clear that if you want to be a politician in Toronto you have to support bikes.

  • http://undefined Ben

    I haven’t been working as a cycling advocate for as long as Joe has, but the time I have spent has been a big contributor to my cynicism.

  • Ryan D

    Many people dont have that option or the time [to bike], nor should we expect to do so as we cant dictate how people live there lifes.
    Very true. Some people need cars, whether for health or employment reasons, and you shouldn’t force people to commute in a fashion that doesn’t work for them.
    But bicycle-unfriendly streets do exactly that. I prefer to commute by bike because it’s convenient, inexpensive, healthy, and generally appropriate for my lifestyle. Failing to develop bicycle infrastructure discourages many people from choosing to commute by bike when it’s appropriate for them to do so, forcing them onto the TTC or into a car, two modes of transit that are already overburdened.

  • Paul Kishimoto


    Nice diminuitive.

  • Darren

    P, you’re welcome.