Bloor bike lanes are a small step for climate action and about a decade too late

Judging from the tweets and hype, the.

Judging from the tweets and hype, the 2-kilometre stretch of Bloor just painted with bike lanes for a pilot project has us leaping forward into the green century.

But as welcome as it is to have some overdue safety in the Annex, the Bloor pilot is far more indicative of how narrow our vision and concern for cycling really is.

A 1992 study urged bike lanes all along Bloor and east over the Viaduct along Danforth as a response to climate change. It’s flat, direct, and has no streetcar tracks to increase the potential for biking accidents. Yet, we still lack a continuous, linked cycling network, especially in the critical east-west direction that so many of us travel. While some major new east-west connections have been made over the last couple of years, huge gaps remain in the downtown core.

Harbord, which is quite close to Bloor, ends at Ossington – then what? Wellesley, also close to Bloor, connects to Parliament, but there’s a gap from there all the way up to the Bloor Viaduct where there’s been zero change apart from ever-rougher pavement. 

A tiny section of Bloor between Sherbourne and Church that was to have bike lanes in the 2001 Bike Plan remains a rough squeeze. Why wasn’t this included in this pilot project?

The Bloor pilot only furthers bike progress where local councillors approve it and can get local business onside to forgo some parking. How astounding that we permit safety on block-by-block whims.

We’re largely content with a token while missing the real reason for a longer bikeway on Bloor: relief of a stretched transit system. With the horrible crowding on Bloor subway trains, bike lanes can provide cheap relief. 

The TTC and the city are resolutely oblivious to this possibility, and it’s because of the money. The TTC makes money from riders in the core, and that revenue helps prop up suburban service. That’s the priority for our suburban masters on council – so what if it’s crowded?

Even a tiny step of a Bloor bike lane is nice. It has been a dangerous area. But if we’re at all serious about addressing climate change and relieving transit overcrowding, we’d have acted on the commitment to build lanes right across Bloor and Danforth more than a decade ago. | @nowtoronto

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