New bike lane pilot projects, apps to propose new routes, and more.
Last year was jam-packed with bike news. Toronto saw the revitalization of the Martin Goodman Trail near the waterfront, the extension of the Richmond-Adelaide cycle tracks and a Bloor Street pilot project was approved. What made it even better was what seemed like a delay in winter weather, helping fair-weather cyclists keep riding into the season.
But it hasn’t been all great: although cyclists are generally happy to see a growth of an infrastructure, some road users have had trouble adjusting to new rules—and authorities seem to have been struggling to enforce them.
Moving forward, the City will continue to juggle biking initiatives. Here’s what cyclists can look forward to in 2016.
- This year, the City is gearing up to finalize the Ten Year Cycling Network Plan, which will outline how gaps in the existing network will be connected and how bikeways will be implemented in new parts of Toronto. Cyclists, however, shouldn’t hold their breath: previous efforts at a 10-year plan have been lacklustre. The Toronto Bike Plan, which was written by the City in 2001, hoped to build 1,000 kilometres of bike lanes before 2011 and failed to meet that goal.
- City Cycling Infrastructure and Programs Manager Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati says Toronto is likely to get approximately 32 kilometres of new bike lanes and about 10 kilometres of upgraded lanes this year. The City is also conducting three major corridor studies: one on Bloor and Dupont from Keele to Sherbourne, and two of them on Yonge, one from Finch to Sheppard and another from Bloor to Front Street. In 2016, Hayward Gulati says the City is planning to allocate an extra $4 million towards cycling infrastructure.
- A Bloor Street cycle track pilot project spanning from Avenue Road through Shaw Street may become a reality as soon as this summer, pending Council approval. The project is currently designed to best accommodate cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians: Hayward Gulati says that on the street’s narrower points, the bike lane would be protected by parking on one side. At its wider points, there would also be room for bollard protection on one side of the street and parking protection on the other. The removal of parking on one side of the street will likely be necessary in order to free up space along the corridor. A second public consultation meeting is scheduled to take place on March 9.
- An environmental assessment for the West Toronto Railpath Extension was recently completed. Some construction is set to begin later this summer, though parts of the design still require ministerial approval. The entire extension’s expected completion is 2018, and would connect the existing paved recreational path through to Liberty Village.
- Although no concrete plan has been put in place so far, the city will likely see another Open Streets TO event this summer. Last year, the event run by 8-80 Cities restricted vehicular access between Christie and Parliament along Bloor Street and from Queen to Bloor along Yonge Street to promote cycling and pedestrianism.
- There’s an app for that: Hayward Gulati says that the City’s cycling app will continue to help shape Toronto’s biking landscape. The app, she says, has aided research for the Ten Year Cycling Network Plan. But users will also benefit from newly added features, including bike Share locations, trail access points, and road restrictions—and developers will continue tweaking the app throughout the year. If you’re hesitant to trust the City, cycling enthusiast Justin Pierre has created his own interactive map. Dubbed Cartoforum, the app allows Torontonians to suggest areas where bike lanes are needed. Pierre says many Cartoforum users have pointed out large gaps between existing bike lanes that could be filled. The map could serve as fuel for cyclists to propose new routes.
- Looking forward, cycling advancements this year could also bring about future progress. In 2017, Toronto riders could see the installation of the first leg of the Under Gardiner project, which would eventually convert 1.75 km of presently unused space into recreational paths and venues for concerts and other festivals.