The bike-sharing program had a successful first year in Toronto, logging 556,000 trips and signing up over 5,000 members. No firm plans to expand the system yet, but bike czar Denzil Minnan-Wong says to expect a big announcement in the fall.
Few targets set out in the official Bike Plan have been met, but this past year the city surpassed its goal of building 249 kilometres of off-road trails. We now have 286 kms of bike paths in parks and hydro corridors, and another 77 kms are planned over the next 10 years.
Barring a Ford-fuelled disaster, construction of Toronto's first physically separated bike lane, a 3-km bikeway on Sherbourne, will begin later this summer. It's intended to be the start of a connected network of separated lanes downtown that would also include routes on Hoskin, Harbord, Wellesley, St. George, Beverley, and the Richmond-Adelaide corridor.
Bombing down Bay
A new bike lane/sharrow route in the heart of downtown is scheduled for installation this summer. Intended to stretch from Queens Quay to College, the Bay lane was approved under council's previous term, and such is the mistrust of the current administration, cycling advocates aren't even speaking openly about it for fear Ford will try to stop its completion.
Bloor bike lane study cancelled
The scrapping of the Jarvis lanes got all the attention, but at the same July council meeting last summer an environmental assessment for a Bloor-Danforth bikeway was also killed. A bike lane along Toronto's main east-west route from Royal York to Victoria Park would have been the spine of a healthy bikeway network, and sources say political interference from Ford's crew was behind staff's recommendation to cancel it.
Jarvis lanes to be removed
According to city staff, the Jarvis bike lanes have made the route safer for pedestrians, drivers and bikers alike, and have had minimal impact on traffic. But work crews will start stripping off the paint sometime this year unless cycling advocates, who are taking their case all the way to Queen's Park, win a last-minute reprieve.
No advice is good advice
Cost-cutting was the mayor's rationale for eliminating the volunteer-based Cycling Committee last year along with a slew of other citizen advisory groups. But the committee had no budget, and the only effect of scrapping it was to silence the cycling community's voice at City Hall. Councillor Mike Layton has since picked up the slack, however, and now runs an ad hoc citizens' cycling group out of his office.
Council's decision to remove bike lanes on Birchmount and Pharmacy in Scarborough meant that for the first time, Toronto finished the year with fewer kilometres of bike lanes than it started with in 2011 - 3.2 km fewer, to be exact. In the same vote, approval for suburban bike lanes in Etobicoke was also rescinded, and lanes on Dupont were shortened.
Toronto's Transportation Services has a disappointing record of delays and missteps that stretches back well before Ford took office. Some of the latest: the Wellesley separated bike lane has been delayed a full year to 2013, and another separated path approved for the Bloor Viaduct was never put in after staff realized they couldn't drill into the bridge's surface. Of the 495 km of bike lanes called for 11 years ago in the official Bike Plan, only 113 km have been built.
Ideas? No thanks.
A recent public health report made several recommendations on how to make Toronto streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Although it was based on sound research and authored by our respected medical officer of health, the report was laughed off the agenda at City Hall because it suggested lowering speed limits, an idea roughly equivalent to a tactical nuclear strike in the imagined "war on the car." Similarly, key recommendations from a 1998 coroner's report on cycling deaths, which included ensuring trucks are outfitted with protective side guards, have yet to be implemented.