Toronto Adds Zero Kilometres of Bike Lanes in 2012
Submitted by Jared Kolb on 22 October, 2012 - 20:33
Toronto – October 23, 2012 – On October 2, 2012, Toronto City Council voted 24-19 to remove the Jarvis Street bike lanes. By the end of 2012, the City will have fewer kilometres of on-street bike lanes than it did at the end of 2009. Despite increased ridership, City Hall has been reducing safe on-street cycling infrastructure and dismantling the bike lane network. The City is not keeping pace with demand for safe, accessible on-street bike lanes.
At the same time, cities around the world are embracing cycling as a smart, efficient and healthy mode of transportation, and are building networks of safe cycling infrastructure. The City of Chicago, for example, is building over 54 kilometres of bike lanes in 2012 as part of an ambitious ‘Streets for Cycling’ plan that will improve on cycling facilities and add roughly 1050 kilometres of bike lanes by 2020.
In contrast, Mayor Rob Ford plans for only 14 kilometres of bike lanes, either upgraded or added, by 2014. The 2001 Toronto Bike Plan called for 495 kilometres of bike lanes to be added by 2012. However, only 112.9 kilometres, or 23%, have been completed. City Council continues to invest in a legacy of inaction.
“Toronto is falling further and further behind other international cities,” says Jared Kolb, Director of Campaigns and Membership for Cycle Toronto. “What’s worse, we’re dismantling the incomplete network that’s already in place. Pharmacy and Birchmount are gone. Jarvis will be removed this year and Dupont is under review. While we applaud the City for building separated bike lanes on Sherbourne Street, we are moving further and further away from a connected and safe network across the city.”
Fifty-four percent of Torontonians are cyclists and yet only 2% report riding regularly to work. Safety is cited as the number one reason why more Torontonians do not ride more often. Considering the billions of dollars lost in economic productivity due increasing levels of congestion across this City, Toronto needs to do more to get people out of cars and into alternative means of transportation. Providing safe and accessible bicycle infrastructure is a critical way to make this happen.
Councillor Minnan-Wong, Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, has demonstrated an interest in enhancing bicycle safety by upgrading bike lanes in the downtown core. And yet, by simultaneously promoting bike lane removal, he signals that bikes belong on some streets and not others. Cyclists deserve equal access and protection on all streets in Toronto.
Cycle Toronto urges City Council to get serious about cycling. Toronto needs safer East-West and North-South routes for cyclists to get in and out of the immediate core. According to Kolb, “We need to dream bigger. Let’s have a mature conversation about how embracing cycling can reduce congestion, increase economic productivity, and contribute to healthier, more liveable communities. It’s time for Toronto to make cycling safety a priority and build a comprehensive network of cycling infrastructure.”