Improved bike parking is a priority for councillors—even in Toronto's suburbs.
One of the best ways to relieve overcrowded subway lines might also be the easiest to implement.
At yesterday’s monthly TTC Board meeting, members enthusiastically passed a motion to work with the Public Works Committee to better mesh cycling facilities with the city’s transit.
Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) tabled the motion to look at the best places to implement bike parking around TTC stations, and to investigate other ways the City can encourage transit users to ride their bikes.
The motion is a sign of the TTC’s shifting attitudes toward biking—cyclists and the bikes they carry onto TTC vehicles should be viewed not as a nuisance, but as an asset.
The TTC has already strived to better the transit experience for cyclists: all buses (save for Community Buses and Wheel-Trans) now have bike racks. New low-platform streetcars have designated areas for bikes. Pape and Dufferin Stations will be the first to get bike channels to assist cyclists taking their bikes up and down stairs to subway platforms. And the bike repair stands that were installed at 10 TTC stations have been a hit; the project may expand to additional stations.
But there’s still room for improvement. Councillor Mihevc noted that there has been a dramatic shift in the last 10 years towards the inter-modality of cycling for the first and last kilometre of a commute. “If you go to any subway station right now and go on the outside, you’ll see bikes attached to fences, hydrants, trees, anything that is solidly attached to the ground,” he says.
And if you’re unlucky enough to have to commute during rush hour on any of the TTC vehicles, you probably understand the incentive to get on your bike when possible instead. Currently, 11 per cent of TTC users commute to TTC or GO stations on bike. According to the TTC’s survey, 61 per cent more would consider doing the same.
Downtown subway stations that connect to cycling routes might be the most obvious for extra bike parking, but the suburban councillors were the most vocal in their support.
At a public budget meeting in her ward, Councillor Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) said the item most unanimously voted on was implementing bike lockers at Don Mills station. “Even if you’re driving by the station, the fact that the bikes are chained up all over everywhere has an impact on you over all the system,” she says.
And cycling has grown in popularity as far out as Scarborough. Steeles Avenue was especially slated for more bike parking, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) emphasized how the current ring-and-post parking is at its capacity along Steeles Avenue, where people bike a kilometre or two from their homes to catch the Steeles bus.
Councillor De Baeremaker was also particularly emphatic about the importance of bike lockers, since the cyclists he knows ride beaters that are “pieces of junk that are so uncomfortable, so junky and crappy that nobody will steal them.” Bike lockers, he argued, will keep the bicycles warm, dry and safe from vandals.
Bike lockers for all might be a pipe dream, but a TTC that provides robust cycling facilities for commuters who choose to ride for part of their journey is a welcomed improvement.