2016 Hero: Bloor Street Bike Lanes
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2016 Hero: Bloor Street Bike Lanes

Nominated for: Being the most important victory in the battle towards creating a real cycling network in Toronto.

Torontoist is reflecting on 2016 by naming our Heroes and Villains—the people, places, things, and ideas that have had the most positive and negative impacts on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 11:59 p.m. on January 5. At noon on January 6, we’ll reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.
When Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) tried to high-five me at a community consultation in 2015 I swerved him like Keanu in The Matrix and said, “Not until I see those painted lines and bollards on the road.”

The self-described bike-activist councillor faltered for one fleeting moment before he recovered. He smiled and reassured me the Bloor bike lane was a sure thing.

And so it has become. Cyclists now have a glorious 2.4-km pilot project bike lane that is part cycle track (protected) along a prime stretch of one of Toronto’s main streets.

At first, I was worried the design is a little cramped in the Annex portion on the south side where the bike lane is so narrow it seems almost impossible to avoid a passenger side dooring—not to mention the student revellers that flood the street on weekend nights.

But that’s why it’s a pilot project: so we can improve on it.

Pilot projects are a genius way to test out new things that the public wants but isn’t 100 per cent sold on. Almost everyone wants bike lanes: They’re good for business, they’re good for congestion, good for safety and for individual health, and they can even be good for tourism. But no one—in Toronto anyway—ever, ever, ever wants to give up their precious on-street at-your-front-door parking spot. This is where Toronto is gutless and why the Bloor bike lane pilot project is a hero with a caveat.

This hero could conquer all nay-sayers if only it was designed in a way that made it safe for cyclists to pass each other and safe for motorists who are still a little confused about when to watch out for cyclists.

The Bloor bike lane is still my hero—heck, we’re kind of the same age if you count all the years it took to finally bring this lane to life—but like so many of life’s heroes, it’s just not perfect yet.