Public Works Committee Votes for and against Bike Improvements

On June 23, Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC), made several recommendations regarding bicycles to be voted on at City Council on July 12/13, 2011.

Projects Getting the Green Light:PWIC recommended that “City Council endorse the direction and implementation of the Mayor’s Bike Plan comprising a 100 km network of off-street bike trails and completion of critical on-street bike lane connections where the community supports them and where they do not impede traffic flow, including a separated bike lane network downtown”. The bulk of the 100 km of off-street trails were part of the Bike Plan adopted in 2001, of which 30 km are to be completed this year through recreational infrastructure funds committed by the Ontario and federal governments in 2009.The new recommended components not already in the 2001 Bike Plan are for separated bike lanes on 1) Bloor Street East, 2) Sherbourne and 3) Wellesley. Bloor Street East is recommended to be installed in 2011 and Sherbourne and Wellesley in 2012.

A feasibility study for separated bike lanes on Adelaide and/or Richmond Street is recommended as part of a larger transportation operations study. Both Adelaide and Richmond were previously recommended as ideal streets for separated bike lanes in the Bike Plan adopted in 2001.

PWIC also recommended the installation of bicycle lanes on Dawes Road and a report on the development of a more robust cyclist training program.Bike Lane Projects On Hold or Cancelled:PWIC recommended the following bike lane removals:

1. Dupont Street east of Landsdowne
2. Bloor Street West, from Mill Road to Beamish (previously approved but not yet installed)
3. Pharmacy Avenue, from Denton to Alvinstone
4. Birchmount Road, from Kingston Rd to St. Clair Ave East
5. Rogers Road near Bronoco Ave. between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m to be used for on-street parking
6. Jarvis Street

The findings from the staff report dated June 9th were primarily disregarded by those on the committee voting in favour of the removals. Namely, the bike lanes on Pharmacy and Birchmount were found to have no significant adverse effect on traffic operations and parking. Total cost of removal: over $200,000.

On Jarvis, the decision similarly runs counter to the facts at hand. Not only will the removal be costly but it will do little to address traffic congestion. After the installation of the bike lanes, traffic counts found approximately the same number of motor vehicles but triple the number of bicyclists. While travel times have increased somewhat, particularly in the evening rush hour, the solution appears to be an advance left turn lane, not removing bike lanes. Removing the bike lanes is unlikely to improve congestion in the long term, and may in fact make the situation worse by creating more motor vehicle traffic, more traffic conflict, and certainly will result in more unsafe conditions for cyclists. Also left out of the discussion was the potential impacts of this decision on pedestrians. A previous multi-year study recommended the removal of a traffic lane on Jarvis to improve the pedestrian realm.

While each of the bike lane removals presents a serious set-back for public safety and complete streets, the Toronto Cyclists Union has identified that Jarvis Street is the most critical and have started a campaign to save those bike lanes. The bike union is recommending that anyone concerned about this issue call or email Mayor Ford directly at 416-397-FORD/mayor_ford@toronto.ca. More information about their campaign here.

PWIC also recommended that the Bloor-Danforth Bikeway Environmental Assessment, contracted on June 9th, 2010 to IBI Group, be put on hold indefinitely. According to the goals of the RFP, IBI Group was to carry out a study for the establishment of a new bikeway on Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. Bloor/Danforth has been identied as an ideal location for bike lanes for over a decade and was a focus of three TCAT reports (Year 1, Year 2, Summary). The cancellation of this EA is a waste of taxpayer dollars, especially at a time of rising debt, and continues the long tradition of failing to provide safe passage for cyclists on major east-west arterials.

Read TCAT’s submission to PWIC here.


Posted On: June 28, 2011