Construction on Toronto’s First Physically Separated Bike Lane is Scheduled to Begin in the Summer of 2012

Update: see previous posts – April 4, 2012 Toronto Cyclists Union Calls For An Environmental Assessment Before Jarvis Bicycle Lanes Are Eliminated, January 17, 2012 Toronto Traffic Fatalities Declining in 2011,  January 12, 2012 Canada’s Bicycle Helmet Laws – Most Provinces and All Territories Don’t Have Legislation in Place,  January 10, 2012 Riding Bicycles on Sidewalks in Toronto – Police Seldom Enforce By-Laws, January 6, 2011 City of Toronto Is Considering Licensing Cyclists, January 4, 2011 Toronto Takes Advantage of Rush Hour Gridlock By Tripling Parking Fine$, October 24, 2011 Toronto in Process of Updating and Harmonizing Cyclist Bylaws & Considers Licensing Cyclists, September 28, 2011 Results of Sept.27/11 Bicycle/Pedestrian Blitz on Danforth Ave/Broadview Ave, September 16, 2011 Casual cyclists feel much safer on sidewalks, rather then the Road, September 7, 2011 Opening of Doors of Motor Vehicles,  September 5, 2011 Bike Trails Through Two Hydro Corridors and Leaside Rail Corridor, August 11, 2011 Bicycle Safety Called for by Ontario Medical Association, August 9, 2011 Police/T.T.C Target Drivers/Pedestrians/Cyclists at T.T.C Stops from Aug.8 – 14, 2011, August 5, 2011 Results of Bicycle/Pedestrian Blitz on August 3 & 4, 2011, August 2, 2011 – Bicycle/Driver/Pedestrian Blitz on Danforth Ave from Victoria Park to Broadview Ave on August 3 & 4/11, July 30, 2011 Pedestrian Injured by Cyclist Calls for Regulated Cycling in Toronto, July 28, 2011 Bicycle Helmets Lead to Fewer Head Injuries for Cyclist’s Who Wear Them, July 17, 2011 Cyclists Ignore the Signs at Kew Gardens, July 13, 2011 Toronto Bicycle Lanes Eliminated, July 9, 2011 Cyclists Continue Riding the Wrong Way on a One-Way Street (Huron Street), July 8, 2011 Toronto Police to Ticket Cyclists and Motor Vehicles Ignoring Cyclist’s Space, July 7, 2011 Careless Driving Causing Death?, May 4, 2011 Police Charge Parent of Young Cyclist Not Wearing His Bicycle Helmet, May 2, 2011 Cyclist on Powered-Assisted Bicycle Charged with Not Wearing a Helmet and Impaired Driving, March 9, 2011 Cyclist Launches 20 Million Lawsuit against Cycling Club & Association, January 27, 2011 Time to Update the Cycling Laws in Toronto & Ontario?, January 8, 2011 Toronto is Ready to Invest in the Safety of Cyclists,December 22, 2010   Toronto’s First Count of Downtown Cyclists (Sept. 2010) , November 8, 2010 Week Long Pedestrian Safety Campaign/Blitz, October 10, 2010 Bike Boxes , September 16, 2010 Private Member’s Bill requires a minimum of one metre paved shoulder be added whenever designated provincial highways are repaved to reduce accidents/fatalities , August 26, 2010 Police Lay 400 Charges Against Cyclists/Pedestrians , May 19, 2010 Motorists Must Stay 3,4 or 5 Feet Away from Bicyclists , March 29, 2010 Toronto’s Zero-Tolerance Bicycle Blitz , November 16, 2009 Most Dangerous Intersections for Pedestrians – Toronto (2008) , October 12, 2009 Idaho Stop Law , September 7, 2009 Toronto Police Bicycle Safety Blitz , March 21, 2009,  Bicycle Accidents Toronto, Reported in 2008 , December 20, 2008 City of Toronto Considering Installing “Rumble Strips”

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Cyclists in Copenhagen - More people commute to work or school by bike in Copenhagen than by car. Supplied photo

Construction on Toronto’s first physically separated bike lane is scheduled to begin on Sherbourne St. this summer.

This spring, Toronto cyclists are enjoying about 30 kilometres of new off-road bike trails and there are plans to build a further 77 kilometres over the next decade.

But the councillor in charge of Toronto’s cycling plans knows he will still take heat: over not enough cycling infrastructure; over plans to remove painted lanes on Jarvis; over where new bike lanes are created.

“No matter what you build you will have enthusiastic supporters and critics,” said Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of Toronto’s public works and infrastructure committee.

On Tuesday he went to the Ontario Bike Summit to tout what Minnan-Wong says is an aggressive program of expanded, safer and better-connected bike lanes and off-road trails.

Construction on Toronto’s first physically separated bike lane is scheduled to begin on Sherbourne St. this summer.

Mayor Rob Ford may be branded anti-bike and anti-transit, but the current administration is achieving more cycling improvements than that of former Mayor David Miller, who had a green reputation, said Minnan-wong.

“We’ve been talking a good game but we haven’t been able to do it,” he said, noting that Vancouver, New York and Montreal all have extensive networks of physically separated bike lanes.

“It’s time for us to catch up. We want to get things done. That is why this administration is spending twice as much — $43 million in five years – on cycling infrastructure than the former administration spent in four — $21 million,” he said.

Toronto’s bike plan has been expanded from 166 kilometres to 460 km. in 10 years. The city has $90 million for cycling infrastructure in its 10-year capital budget. That includes $6 million a year to build those 77 kilometres of off-road trails.

In addition to physically separating cyclists from traffic on Sherbourne St. for 4 kilometres between Bloor and Front streets, Toronto is embarking on studies and consultations this year to build separated cycling lanes on Wellesley St., and the Richmond or Adelaide corridor.

Those streets have been in the bike plan for 10 years, but this is the first real progress, said Minnan-Wong.

But, he said, the plan is built on the philosophy that bikes should not impede cars.

“There are streets in this city that best serve motorists where bike lanes are not appropriate,” he said, using Jarvis as an example. Probably the most controversial bike lanes in the city were built in 2010 but will be removed this summer when the Sherbourne lane separation is complete.

Ridership is higher in the downtown core, but the greatest growth in cycling in Toronto is in the suburbs, said Daniel Egan, manager of Pedestrian and Cycling Infrastructure.

Fifty-eight per cent of Ontario residents would like to bike more, up from 53 per cent a year ago, according to an annual survey by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, which organized the bike summit.

“Toronto’s doing some really good stuff but they have a long way to go,” said coalition founder Eleanor McMahon.

She says big city lifestyles have polarized the discussion of cycling in Toronto.

“The pressure of daily lives is so heightened here,” she said. “But even if you never ride a bike, cycling is good for you because it means less cars on the road.

Copenhagen commutes on two wheels

In the commuter cycling world, Andreas Rohl is a rock star.

“We have no cyclists in Copenhagen. We just have citizens who use their bikes to go from A to B,” the manager of Copenhagen’s bike program told a rapt audience of bike planners and advocates at the Ontario Bike Summit in Toronto Tuesday.

In a city of 1.5 million people, more people bike to work or school than drive: 37 per cent compared with 31 per cent who travel by car. The rest take transit or walk.

But that’s not good enough for the free-wheeling Danes, who want to drive the number of cycling commuters to 50 per cent in the near future.

Despite a climate similar to Toronto’s, 32 per cent of all trips are made by bike and 70 per cent of residents ride at least once a week.

About a quarter of families with two or more kids own cargo bikes, which require an investment of about $3,000 Cdn.

Car ownership has nevertheless increased by about 50 per cent in recent years.

“We like people to have access to cars when they need them,” Rohl said.

Copenhagen, he said, invests $15 million to $20 million annually (about $25 per citizen) in biking infrastructure, including bridges and elevated bikeways that allow for passage over busy streets and make biking speeds competitive with the car. It also pays for small comforts along bike lanes, such as angled trash cans and footrests at stoplights.

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