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When you’re riding a bike – as opposed to driving – it’s much easier to slow down, pull over and decide you’re going to shop or go for a coffee.
A few weeks ago, I created a mural for the Uptown Yonge BIA showcasing native flowers. It’s called the Gratitude Garden. I painted it on a wall just north of Eglinton Avenue.
The mural’s location gave me a chance to ride the recently completed Yonge Street bike lane between Bloor and Davisville. I don’t think I’m alone when I say they’re amazing.
Prior to the lane’s construction, I had never cycled on Yonge. I didn’t feel safe. The space for bikes was very narrow.
But with a cycle track, I feel more secure. I love the fact it’s so fast and efficient.
It’s often said that “bikes mean business” and it’s true. The new Yonge bike lanes not only make the neighbourhood more attractive, they will also help businesses grow.
Bike lanes help people travel at a human pace and offer opportunities to stop, interact, shop, talk and have a meal. They foster a small-town feeling. And the lanes add adventure: they help you explore your city the way you might explore cobblestone streets and cafes in Europe or an exciting open-air bazaar filled with vendors in South East Asia.
When you’re riding a bike – as opposed to driving – it’s much easier to slow down, pull over and decide you’re going to shop or go for a coffee. Things happen spontaneously. You might take time to chat with a store owner and get to know them on a first-name basis. You might decide you want a take-out meal and just put it in your bicycle basket. You might bump into friends and go for a drink. Or you might walk up close to view a new mural.
Bike lanes facilitate all of this while boosting the local economy.
For these reasons, I hope the new Yonge bike lane will grow with discussions about extending them to Lawrence and beyond.
The city needs an interconnected network of bike lanes. A Yonge lane extension would be a crucial part of this, safely linking the Bloor to North Toronto and, eventually, Willowdale.
Cycling not only promotes physical fitness and a healthy climate it helps grow community and business.
Pam Lostracco is a graphic designer, muralist and small business owner.