Council votes on the pilot project next month.
There’s a development in the seemingly endless battle for bike lanes on Bloor Street, and it comes in the form of a City Council vote next month. If approved, temporary bike lanes will dawn the Annex-Bloor region, running between Shaw Street and Avenue Road this summer.
The project, however, is no more than a pilot—as mayor John Tory has strongly emphasized as a condition of his support—and is aimed at evaluating the impacts of cycling infrastructure along the downtown thoroughfare. As such, the pilot project is subject to removal if the lanes are deemed detrimental to the flow of traffic.
In light of the approaching vote, here’s what you need to know about the current proposal, and the long and winding road that got us here.
1. The pilot project does not have the committee’s approval.
Members of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee met on April 25 to vote on the proposed pilot project. The project was supported by Councillor Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West) and Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches-East York), but rejected by commiteee chair Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West) and Councillor Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre). Due to the split decision, the proposal will head to Council without the approval of the committee.
2. The pilot project does, however, have the approval of others.
Despite the stalemate, some of the city’s loudest proponents of the issue lie outside of the committee. Councillors Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) and Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), whose wards fall within large stretches of the proposed pilot, have previously joined forces to promote the bike lanes, and recently hosted a public rally prior to the committee vote. Mayor John Tory has also given his support for the pilot project—“pilot project, underlined twice, it’s a pilot project,” he emphasizes—so long as the project is studied “carefully from every single standpoint.” Beyond the legislators, 96 per cent of cyclists and 85 per cent of pedestrians have voiced support for the bike lanes, while 46 per cent of motorists think the project is a good idea.
3. The bike lanes will cost the city an estimated $500,000.
According to the staff report, the cost to implement the biking facilities is an estimated $500,000, the funding for which is available in the 2016 Capital Budget and 2017 to 2025 Capital Plan for Transportation Services. Beyond the cost of implementation, the track would also require ongoing maintenance that would amount to $7,000 per lane-kilometre in the winter, and annual costs of $12,000 per lane-kilometre. The staff report states that maintaining the bike lanes will cost an additional $95,000 annually.
4. More than 3,000 cyclists bike along Bloor on a daily basis.
An approved bike path along Bloor is likely to go to good use, with Bloor as an active spot for cyclists in the downtown core. Due to current conditions, however, biking has become an increasingly difficult activity. The general manager of Transportation Services’ presentation on the pilot project reports that there are an average of 22 collisions involving cyclists each year along Bloor. Nearly a third of those collisions are due to “dooring,” and 17 per cent due to motorists overtaking cyclists.
5. The battle for bike lanes on Bloor has been ongoing for 40 years.
The first inkling of discussion regarding Bloor bike lanes emerged in 1976—when city officials released a report concluding that Bloor was an ideal location for bike lanes—and has progressed only in minor increments ever since. In 2005, the Take the Tooker group, an advocacy group for cyclists in Toronto, held a demonstration along Bloor involving a mock bike lane, but the protest failed to amount to concrete change. Only now has a project been proposed for implementation.