Rob Z’s summary of the bike plan update

Robert Zaichkowski has posted an excellent summary of the revisions to the bike plan that will be considered this Thursday at the Intrastructure and Environment Committee.

To quote his action items at the end of his post:

The deadline to register to speak or provide comments to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee (iec@toronto.ca) and your city councillor is 4:30 PM on Wednesday, June 26. Stay tuned for action alerts from Cycle Toronto, though those wishing to provide submissions should focus on the following key items:

  1. Extend the Bloor bike lanes west to High Park Avenue by 2020
  2. Implement a pilot bike lane on Danforth Avenue by 2020
  3. Accelerate bike lane installations across the City including protected intersections
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Backgrounder posted for the 2019-2021 Bike Plan

The backgrounder for the latest revision to the City of Toronto Bike Plan has been posted. This will be considered at the June 27 Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, and then it move to further consideration at City Council.

The agenda item is here.

The sentences relevant to Bloor/Danforth are as follows:

“As part of the Update to the Cycling Network Plan, the major corridors were reviewed and prioritized based on the analysis results, as well as on previous Council commitments, recently completed Avenue Studies, and planned capital works. The following corridors are proposed for study in the near-term program (2019-2021): 

• Danforth Avenue Planning and Complete Streets Study (Broadview Ave to Victoria Park Ave): Launching in summer 2019, through a collaboration between Transportation Services, City Planning, and Economic Development and Culture, this project will evaluate opportunities for a complete streets design. Implementation proposed for 2021. 

• Bloor Street West (Shaw St to High Park Ave): Launching in fall 2019, this project will involve planning, design, and public consultation for an extension of the Bloor St West cycle tracks to High Park, with implementation proposed for 2020 or 2021. 

• Bloor Street East (Church St to Sherbourne St): As a next step from the Bloor Street East Streetscape Improvement Plan, an Environmental Assessment for this project will be initiated in early 2020. Road reconstruction is planned in 2022.”

Note that it is not clear what “implementation” means for the first two bullet points. Note that there is a distinction drawn for Bloor St. East, which uses the phrase “Road reconstruction”.

One hopes that the phrase in the first paragraph “proposed for study” doesn’t mean that all that will happen by 2021 are more studies.

BTW: our turtle derby video is now available on youtube, as well as from the link on the “reports and videos” tab.

 

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Community letter for extension

On June 27 City Council will be considering whether to accelerate the extension of the Bloor bike lanes westward to High Park Ave, or to put it off with another study. As part of our advocacy effort, we are looking for business owners on Bloor who would support this initiative, particularly those between Shaw and High Park.

Join the 40 merchants & groups that have already signed the community letter calling for the extension of the Bloor bike lane.

email us at bellsonbloor@gmail.com

The text of the support letter follows below, and the letter is also available in pdf form from the “community letter for extension” tab from the home page.

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May 21, 2019 

Mayor John Tory and City Councillors 

City Hall, 2nd Floor 100 Queen St. W. Toronto, ON M5H 2N2 

Dear Mayor Tory and City Councillors, 

Re: It’s (finally) time to make Bloor St. safe for Toronto 

Toronto has fallen behind other major cities in making its roads safe for residents and visitors who ride bicycles, or who would ride if they felt safe. Forty years after the installation of the city’s first bike lane, Toronto still lacks a coherent network of bike lanes. It’s time for City Hall to remedy this shortcoming, and to catch up with other major North American cities. A good place to start is the extension of the Bloor bike lane westward from Shaw St. to High Park. 

Bike lanes on Bloor have been comprehensively studied many times, including in 1978, 1992, 2008, and 2017. Each of these studies confirmed the popularity of Bloor as a cycling route and the potential for significant growth in ridership. Each study likewise highlighted the value of Bloor as a key connecting route for a cycling network. The 2017 study of the Bloor bike lane pilot from Avenue Rd. to Shaw was, according to the city’s transportation manager, one of the most comprehensively studied road projects in recent North American history. 

The failure to move forward on bike lanes on Bloor, despite the obvious need, is part of a larger failure to implement Toronto’s 2016 Bike Plan. A mere 27 km of bike lanes have been installed in the last three years — leaving the city far off track from the 335 km of lanes and roadside paths envisioned over the plan’s ten-year timeframe. By comparison, Montreal, despite its far smaller size and colder winters, installed 90 km of bike lanes during the same time frame, while New York City installed 124 km in 2017 alone. 

The 2.4 km pilot bike lane on Bloor (made permanent by City Council in 2017) resulted in a surge in the number of trips by bicycle and a substantial reduction in the number of conflicts (near misses) between road users. Revenues for local merchants also increased. In fact, city staff noted in its study that if a bike lane can be so successfully installed on “one of the busiest and most constrained sections of Bloor,” it should be considered for the full length of Bloor/Danforth. And yet, even a Bloor corridor study described as ‘currently underway’ in 2016 for Bloor bike lanes remains stalled. 

The potential contribution of the bicycle to urgent problems of climate change, traffic congestion, and affordability continue to be undermined by the grim road casualty toll. Last year five cyclists were killed on public roads and many others injured, while the city installed a mere eight km of new bike lanes. The demonstrated peril for pedestrians is no less disturbing, despite Toronto’s Vision Zero road safety plan. 

Our city has changed. Today it is transit, walking and cycling that are increasing in importance as the main mode of transportation for residents. Municipal infrastructure investments are urgently needed to bring our transportation system back into balance by providing for the safety of all road users, including residents who get around by bicycle. 

It’s finally time to move from study to action for bike lanes on Bloor. The next step must be a design and implementation plan, informed by community consultation, to determine ‘how’ not ‘whether’ to install bike lanes on Bloor and to ensure that issues such as the location of business loading zones, safe motor vehicle turns, and access for the disabled are addressed. 

We urge City Council to move forward now on extending the Bloor bike lane west to High Park — a road safety measure that is long overdue. 

Sincerely, 

__________________________ 

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Letter to Mayor John Tory

Albert Koehl has sent a letter to Mayor John Tory about the failure of the city’s ten year bike plan.

April 29, 2019

Dear Mayor Tory,

Re: Toronto’s bike plan is failing (again)

Toronto’s Ten-Year Cycling Network Plan is on a clear trajectory to failure. We believe that such a failure is a loss for the community, not just for people on bicycles.

The new ten-year plan, approved in principle by council in June 2016, set out 335 km of new bike lanes and sidewalk level bike paths to be in place by 2025. In the almost three years since then, a paltry 27.5 km of new bike lanes, including some of marginal value, have been built. (Montreal, by comparison has installed 90 km of bike lanes in the same period.) This dismal pace of action has occurred despite a $16 million annual cycling capital budget (of which only $11 million was spent last year — little of it on bike lanes) and millions in additional federal funding. At the current pace, City Hall will repeat the failure of the 2001 bike plan.

The numbers are not simply a matter of passing interest. While Toronto installed about eight km of bike lanes last year, five residents were killed (a toll not exceeded since 1998) and many others suffered life-altering injuries while engaged in the otherwise enjoyable activity of riding bicycles.

Polling information over recent years has shown majority support from across the city for bike lanes and other road safety measures. We know that far more people would cycle if safe infrastructure was in place, allowing them to take advantage of the health and affordability benefits of bicycling while the community is spared from unnecessary air pollution, noise, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and road danger.

Central to the new ten-year plan were eight corridor studies for specific arterial roads, including Bloor, Danforth, and Yonge Streets, to provide the vital connecting routes needed for a cycling network. We have known since the 1970s that utilitarian cyclists use the same arterial roads as motorists, simply because they are typically going to the same places (and at the same times of day). Although it is now 40 years since Toronto’s first bike lane was installed, we are still years away from seeing a useful cycling network in place.

On a motion by the chair of the public works committee on May 16, 2016 (PW 13.11), all but two of the corridor studies were deferred, subject to a two-year review. The rationale for these deferrals was to provide an opportunity to learn from the completed studies. The Yonge study did move forward, albeit driven by the road reconstruction schedule, but the Bloor study sits idle – despite being noted as “currently underway” in 2016. We have yet to receive a satisfactory explanation for the failure to move forward, especially in view of the crucial information the reports were to provide (and in the context of new staff resources contemplated under the ten-year plan and the significant available funding). The two-year review has also not taken place.

We therefore have three questions:

  1. Who is accountable and responsible to the community for implementation of the city’s bike plan? We note that the significant dedication of city resources to the preparation of the bike plan is squandered when the plan is not implemented;
  2. What strategy will be put in place to get the ten-year plan back on track? This will require significant political will, given that three years have already passed with little progress. Action during this term of council will determine success or failure; and
  3. Why has the Bloor Corridor Study not been commenced, given that its completion was a key determinant for future action on the remaining corridor studies, which were themselves necessary elements for a coherent bike network in Toronto.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Albert Koehl

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Westward Ho! What’s next for the Bloor bike lanes

Cycle Toronto has published a more extensive summary of last week’s meeting on the westward extension of the Bloor bike lane.

Action item:

They have updated their pledge on the Bloor bike lane specifically to call for a westward extension of the lanes to High Park. Sign, if you have not already done so!

 

 

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Westward Ho! Bloor bike lane extension meeting

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(cross posted from Dandyhorse Magazine)

Tonight was Westward Ho!, a community meeting organized for the Bloordale neighbourhood to educate people about the issues surrounding a possible westward extension of the Bloor bike lane as far as High Park. It was organized by frequent Dandyhorse contributors Albert Koehl of Bells on Bloor and Rob Zaichkowski from Cycle Toronto. The meeting was held at Bloor Collegiate Institute, just a bit west of the Bloor and Dufferin intersection.

Albert kicked things off with a short historical presentation of bike lanes on Bloor.

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Next up: Nancy Lea Smith from TCAT, who talked about several studies they had done over the years to measure the economic impact of bike lane installation.DSC07663

The next speaker was local merchant Jennifer Klein of “Secrets From Your Sister“. She has been supportive of the bike lanes, but understood the apprehension of some of her fellow merchants, as well as her own customers. She said that adjustments made during the pilot phase of the Bloor bike lanes was helpful: in particular the addition of dedicated loading zones on side streets.

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Sharon Zikman (Doctors for Safe Cycling) talked about the health aspects of cycling. She is a psychiatrist, and made an analogy between anti-depressants and commuting by bike. She said that when she prescibed anti-depressants, she knew upfront that the they would be 35% effective on average, with some small probability of serious side effects. On the other hand, she cited studies from the UK that benefits from commuting by bike could have a larger impact, such as a 50% decrease in cardiac disease. She noted the hazards of cycling as a side effect, but this was a side effect that could be avoided by prescribing safer cycling infrastructure.

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Next up: Nahum Mann from the Bloordale Community Improvement Association (CIA). He said that they were supportive of the westward extension of the bike lanes. On a personal note, he said that he both he and his fiancée had been doored recently.

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At this point, Councillors Layton and Bailao joined in, just having rushed over from City Council after having voted to make the King Street transit pilot permanent.

Mike was somewhat circumspect about the prospects of the westward extension in the near term. He spoke from his experience in the long process of getting the Bloor bike lanes installed up to Shaw. He said that it took a big tent to get it through. At the same time, one can’t wait for the community building to be perfect before moving forward.

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Ana Bailao sounded generally supportive. She acknowledged that a network of bike lanes will be one piece of the solution to moving goods and people across an increasingly crowded city. She said that there will be a need for difficult conversations, and that support comes from packing rooms with people, not just dedicated cycles.

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Next, Gideon Forman from the David Suzuki Foundation presented some data from an EKOS poll that showed surprisingly broad support across the city for bike lanes.

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Finally, Jared Kolb from Cycle Toronto said that City Council will have a key decision to make in May to consider accelerating the extension of the Bloor bike lanes. If they turn it down, there is little prospect of anything happening until at least 2023. He reiterated the success of the Richmond/Adelaide bike lanes, and stated that their polls consistently show that people want to ride, and they want to ride more often.

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The speakers then took a series of questions from the audience.

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There were a few people who were brave enough to speak up strongly against the bike lanes, and against the behaviour of cyclists in general. This lead to one of the difficult conversations that was alluded to earlier in the evening.

One of the last questions was from the head of the local BIA who said that her members were undecided about the bike lanes, and that they were not aware of the information that had been presented at this meeting. I saw both Jared and Ana huddled with her as the meeting adjourned.

Out in the lobby, there were a few researchers from the University of Copenhagen who were running a survey on bike infrastructure. They are been here for a while. Here, longtime advocate Hamish Wilson is briefing them.

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One of the european visitors said he was impressed with all of the bike advocacy that was going on, but couldn’t understand the glacial pace of getting new things built.  Why indeed….

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Bloor bike lane extension meeting

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(graphic by Peter)

Mark your calendars for this coming Tuesday evening for a public meeting about the timeline for a westward extension of the Bloor Bike Lanes at Bloor Collegiate Institute.

The speakers include:

  • Albert Koehl (Bells on Bloor) – History of Bloor and the bicycle
  • Nancy Smith Lea (TCAT) – Bloor pilot study & what we learned
  • Jennifer Klein (Secrets from Your Sister) – The business perspective
  • Councillors Layton and/or Bailao – The view from council
  • Sharon Zikman (Doctors for Safe Cycling) – The health perspective
  • Gideon Forman (David Suzuki Foundation) – The environmental perspective
  • Jared Kolb (Cycle Toronto) – Next Steps

Toronto.com just published an article about the upcoming meeting.

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The Great Bike Lane Turtle Derby

There were some strange goings on near Bloor and Dufferin this morning.

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Video linked below:

Afterwards, it was a brief stroll down Bloor to get a snack.

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Of course you can guess who represented Bloor in the race.

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Arriving at Home Baking for freshly baked treats.  Support your local businesses!

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Ever been in line when the customers ahead of you are soooo slow?  😉

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Turtles need nourishment too!

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Thanks to all who participated!

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Nearly one million cyclists a year on the Bloor bike lanes

Our friends at CycleTO recently posted an analysis of city data on the number of cyclists that use the Bloor bike lanes, and came up with the fact that almost one million cyclists use them a year. This makes them one of the most heavily used pieces of bike infrastructure in Canada, despite the fact that they are only 2.4 km long.

Westbound on Bloor, approaching Shaw, do you ever get a sinking feeling when you know that the bike lane is about to end?

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After the bike lane ends, you have no choice but to mix it up with traffic.

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In the same blog post, CycleTO makes a strong argument to extend the bike lanes westward, all the way to High Park.

They also cite a bike count that was done in September of last year by Bells on Bloor volunteers. That data shows that between the hours of midnight and 9 pm on Sept 28, 2018, about 2200 cyclists cycled by Sweet Pete’s bike shop, just west of Bloor and Dufferin, a section with no bike lanes.

Here’s a closer look at the data.

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Both lines show the number of cyclists per hour, westbound (blue) and eastbound (orange). It is interesting that the morning rush hour has a very distinct peak between 8-9 am, whereas the outbound evening rush hour is much more spread out. The data show a total of 1060 westbound cyclists and 1134 eastbound cyclists, totals that are roughly balanced.

There were also automobile counts done over the rush hour periods. During the morning rush between 8-9 am, the cyclist total was about 13% of the motorist total. During the evening rush, the number of cyclists was about 17% between the hours of 4-7 pm. These are significant numbers for a section of Bloor that is not bike friendly.

Let’s continue the push to get the Bloor bike lanes extended, and for bike lanes to be put on the Danforth as well!

 

 

 

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two articles on the Dandyhorse blog

50502892_2061064967309033_6013425982197727232_oDandyhorse published two recent articles on the bike plan.

In the first, Robert Zaichkowski and Albert Koehl talk about how real progress on building new bicycle infrastructure is falling far behind the official bike plan.

In the second, Tammy Thorne outlines how unambitious the city’s plans are for 2019.

Tomorrow morning (Jan 17), the newly constituted infrastructure and environment committee will vote on whether or not to recommend that the Richmond and Adelaide bike lanes be made permanent, as recommended by city staff. The city’s own studies show that bike traffic along this corridor has increased by a factor or ten, and the number of bike/car collisions as decreased at the same time. This will be the first indication of how receptive the new city council is towards bicycle infrastructure.

Fingers crossed.

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