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Councillors Revive Plan for North America’s Largest Bike Station at Nathan Phillips Square

The $1.2 million project has been in limbo since 2011.

Bikes in Nathan Phillips Square during 2008's Bike to Work ride  Photo by rob harris28, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Bikes in Nathan Phillips Square during 2008′s Bike to Work ride. Photo by rob.harris28, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

City councillors have voted to revive a plan to build North America’s largest bike station in the underground parking lot at Nathan Phillips Square. The project, which would include 380 bike parking spaces and shower facilities, was delayed after Toronto Parking Authority staff said that removing 24 ordinary parking spaces in order to accommodate the new facility would cost $70,000 in lost revenue.

Monday, councillors on the City’s government management committee voted 3-2 in favour of reviving the plan, subject to approval from city council at its meeting in May.

Councillor Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East), who chairs the committee, said the underground lot doesn’t appear to be operating close to capacity, meaning the lost car parking wouldn’t make a difference. “When you get down to the lower [parking lot] floors, nine times out of 10 there’s a good chunk of it that’s vacant,” he said following the vote. He added that the planned showers and bike repair shop within the facility would encourage cyclists who currently avoid riding to work. “Who wants to be beside somebody that’s biked all the way from Scarborough or Etobicoke on an 80-degree day?” he wondered aloud.

Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North), who voted against the project, slammed its $1.2 million budget as “reckless spending” and objected to the loss of parking spaces. “What we should be doing is utilizing that [space] for cars,” Ford said following the decision. “I’m sure there’s other places that bikes can park around here. We don’t need to take out parking spaces out of prime locations to build showers.”

The bike station was initially proposed as part of the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization, a project approved under former mayor David Miller. City staff told the committee that half of the $1.2 million budgeted for the station has already been spent on design and planning. Transportation staff quietly deferred the project in 2011 after parking authority officials objected to the potential loss of revenue. Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) found out about the delay, and filed an administrative inquiry, which led to the committee’s vote.

Jared Kolb of Cycle Toronto, the city’s largest cycling advocacy group, praised the committee’s decision. “It sends a strong message that cyclists are an important part of the transportation mix,” Kolb said. He argued for the efficiency of using 24 vehicle parking to accommodate up to 380 cyclists. “In terms of a return on investment, it’s a fantastic use of space,” he added.

A 2009 City study found that 91 per cent of commuter cyclists believe “more secure indoor parking would improve cycling in Toronto.” Bike stations at Victoria Park Station and Union Station are already up and running, and one is planned for the future Finch West Station on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line.

The overall cost of the Nathan Phillips Square revitalization has ballooned to approximately $60 million, up from about $40 million in 2007. Ainslie attributed this to council-approved additions to the project—such as enhanced landscaping—after the original approval. He assured reporters that the bike station wouldn’t contain unnecessary frills. “I don’t think you’re going to see any brass or marble in there,” he said.

Comments

  • iSkyscraper

    Hey Doug, guess what your beloved home town of Chicago has right in the middle of downtown?

    Could it be, perchance, a 300-space bike center that cost $3.2 million dollars?

    http://www.chicagobikestation.com/index.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald's_Cycle_Center

    Now go waste money delaying transit projects or ripping out bike lanes or repaving the Deco Labels block. Leave real government to the intelligent people.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    How thick is Doug?

    • Glenn Storey

      if the two fat morons would ride a bike once in a while, they wouldn’t be thick at all.

  • HotDang

    80 degrees? Are we biking to work at our job in Death Valley?

    I guess in Doug Ford’s globally warmed utopia he dreams of, it will always be too hot to bike to work.

    • tomwest

      I think Doug works in Farenheit, like the USA, but unlike Canadians. (80F = 27C)

      • rich1299

        To be fair I believe it was Paul Ainslie who mentioned 80 degrees, not Doug Ford

  • Gabe

    How will cyclists get to this new bicycle parking lot without safe bike lanes? Just a thought.

  • tomwest

    “I’m sure there’s other places that bikes can park around here”
    Really? Like where? And if there’s not, will you change your mind Doug?

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      There are plenty of places to park bikes by City Hall! Why, there are nearly half a dozen bike lockers on the west side. Surely that’s enough!

      • junctionist

        Nice sarcasm. I think some people might not get it, though.

  • Nick

    Of course Doug Ford didn’t make a peep when it was revealed that the (car) parking spaces in the new parking garage at Harbourfront cost more than $100000 each (versus $3157 cost per bike parking spot for these ones at City Hall). Not that I expect him to be unbiased or anything…

    • junctionist

      However, you can’t take this point too far because you’re taking the cost of building the underground parking garage at Harbourfront Centre and comparing it to merely adding bicycle parking to an existing parking garage.

      • Nick

        They still had to use (our) tax dollars from whichever level of government to build the garage at Harbourfront (the space for which could very well have been converted to the park without the garage underneath), when there’s an enormous parking garage just to the north of Queen Quay already. My point was to highlight the Fords’ incessant chanting of four wheels good, two wheels bad.

  • OgtheDim

    Looks like the Ford’s just found their next Hero Burger.

    • dsmithhfx

      A nice distraction from casino woes.

  • http://twitter.com/suicide_boi Suicide Boi

    If half of the $1.2 million budget has already been spent on design and planning then how can they possibly meet the budget? How much is this really going to cost?

  • http://twitter.com/MarkJull Mark Jull

    For what it’s worth, I think this is only symbolic, if not dumb. Of all the problems with cycling infrastructure, having a huge bike ‘parking lot’ with a few showers at City Hall is not a priority. I’d much rather the money be spent on bike lanes around the city and more post-and-rings, also spread around the city where needed.