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.

*********************************************

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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