Awarding Toronto Silver Bicycle Friendly Community Award Irresponsible in Light of Statistics
Submitted by Andrea Garcia on 25 April, 2012 - 11:57
Yesterday, the City of Toronto received a Bicycle Friendly Community award, which recognizes long-term multi-faceted commitment to cycling. The Silver Award that is being presented to the City is proof that cycling is a major issue in Toronto and one that requires much more attention if we are to attain the Gold or Platinum standards shared by North America's best cycling cities. We are pleased that this new measurement is now in place to gauge future cycling progress and track year-over-year improvements; however, we are also disappointed that Toronto would be given an award that seems to reflect a city that supports and plans for cycling, while our experience has shown that it does not have the political will to actually implement its Bike Plan plan over the past 12+ years and Mayoral terms of three different Mayors. The current state of and trends in our cycling infrastructure and City support include:
- We had 1,119 reported cases of cyclists hit by cars, and over 1,000 cyclists are injured each year in Toronto (an average of three per day). These numbers do not reflect the large number of unreported cases, and researchers estimate that 80 per cent of collisions go unreported [City of Toronto Collision Summary]
- Four cyclists were killed on Toronto streets.
- The City dismantled the Cycling Advisory Committee despite the objections of community leaders.
- The City has removed 5.9 km of bike lanes, making it one of the only cities in North America to have a net reduction in bike lanes.
- City Council voted to remove the bike lanes on Jarvis Street despite clear evidence that the street was functioning well for all road users.
- City Council cancelled the Bloor Street bike lane Environmental Assessment
- Toronto continues to have the highest number of recorded bike-car collisions per capita than any large Canadian City [City of Toronto Collision Summary 2010]
- The City has failed to implement the Toronto Bike Plan which was adopted by Council in 2001. Only 20 per cent of the planned bike lanes (112.9 km of a planned 495 km) have been completed. [City of Toronto]
- Toronto has failed to implement the 1998 Coroners Recommendations, including the Bike Network and truck side guards.
It is disappointing to see Toronto receiving any type of recognition that suggests it is doing well by its cyclists. While we have a talented City Staff of planners and engineers who are eager to implement strategies to make the experience off all road users a safer and more enjoyable one, the gross inaction on cycling has been due to a lack of political will. As representatives of Toronto’s vibrant cycling community, we cannot in good conscience support this award. In fact, any cycling award given to a City that is ripping out bike lanes is shameful. We would like to see what metrics this award was based on explained more clearly, and encourage the Bicycle Friendly Community Program to consider applying standards that better represent the actual cycling climate in the cities it recognizes.