It’s been 18 years since the City of Toronto created the Shifting Gears plan for cycling policy.
While its vision—creating a cycling culture and building infrastructure to allow cyclists and drivers to share the same roads—may finally be coming to life, the challenge of maintaining safety is even greater today than it was back then.
Every year the Toronto Foundation releases Toronto’s Vital Signs report, an analysis of how the city is doing across all sectors—and it can reveal some pretty fascinating stuff. We examined the 2016 report, and here are six things we learned.
Whether it’s no feet on the table at your parents’ place, $50 buy in at the craps table or no profanity in the barber shop, the rules influence your environment.
Condos have rules, too.
Much like a family home, business or socio-political establishment, a condo’s rules are the source of both its conflict and its cohesion. Condo residents elect members who make up a board that’s supposed to prevent the condo from falling apart, build what the owners tell them to and not break the law.
Much of the work is already done. The city’s ravine system has been called a crown jewel by the likes of chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat, and the space is waiting for the right programming and infrastructure improvements to make it happen.
The City has studied this idea for over a year—last October there were a series of design charettes at the Evergreen BrickWorks to brainstorm the best ideas to make a “superpark” happen. These include additional bike lanes, pedestrian bridges and paths, combining two rail corridors, and more.
John Tory also believes it’s the kind of project that private donors can buy into, and they’ll be happy to have their name attached to it. But given recent experience, it’s an open question whether City Council has the same commitment to city-building and whether the “superpark” is just another branding exercise that will wither when confronted with the reality that things cost money and private donors aren’t going to pay for everything.
Has Toronto turned the corner when it comes to accepting the bicycle as a legitimate part of our transportation system? A Forum Research poll from September 30 provides good reasons for optimism. The survey found 70 per cent of Torontonians favour bike lanes compared to a mere 22 per cent who oppose them. A majority of people in the city even support the long-debated Bloor bike lane—installed just weeks ago.
The on-road reality for Toronto’s cyclists is still a far cry not only from cycling superstars like Copenhagen or Amsterdam but also from our big city Canadian rival, Montréal. Past municipal promises to increase bicycle infrastructure—like Toronto’s 2001 Bike Plan for 500 kilometres of bike lanes—failed miserably. Without safe bike lanes, many people are unwilling to take a chance cycling on our fast-paced roads—let alone allow their children to do the same. The Forum poll appears to show deepening and broadening support for bike lanes in Toronto, findings that can’t help but make an impression on decision-makers at City Hall.