Cycling poised for accelerated growth in Toronto
Submitted by Jared Kolb on 12 June, 2013 - 09:24
Bicycles account for 45% of morning peak traffic on Harbord St. on Bike to Work Day
Between 7:30-9:30am on Monday May 27th (Bike to Work Day), bicycles made up 45% of traffic traveling eastbound along Harbord St, a key cycling corridor in Toronto’s west end. Cycle Toronto manually counted traffic on Harbord between 7am and 7pm. Bicycles made up 36% of all vehicles travelling westbound during the evening peak, between 4:30-6:30pm. Bike to Work Day kicked off Bike Month 2013, which runs until June 30, 2013.
Cycling is poised for major gains in Toronto. According to the 2009 City of Toronto Cycling Study, 54% of Torontonians rode a bicycle in the last year. What’s more, 55% of all trips in Toronto are less than 7 kilometres, which typically takes 30 minutes or less to cycle. New polling data from Share the Road Cycling Coalition indicates that 37% of Torontonians bicycle at least monthly and 7% - or 182,000 people – are cycling daily in Toronto. However, 69% of Torontonians would prefer to cycle more often. The most significant reason they cite as a barrier to cycling more often is poor road safety.
“Cycling is energizing, fun and the best way to get around the city. Torontonians want to cycle more often, yet the lack of safe, protected bike infrastructure is holding them back,” said Jared Kolb, Executive Director of Cycle Toronto. “In the limited places where we have connected bike lanes, Torontonians are taking to the streets in significant numbers. Cycling is a critical way to reduce transit and automobile congestion, but the rollout of safe, protected infrastructure has been glacial. We have fewer bike lanes on our City’s streets today than we did at the end of 2009. Our elected officials at City Hall must get moving on building a network of protected bike lanes across Toronto.”
The preliminary counts on Harbord raise important questions. If bicycles make up between 36% and 45% of all peak traffic on Harbord, should they not receive a higher road allowance in the right of way? Should we not design streets like Harbord to emphasize bicycle, rather than motor vehicle traffic? And how would simple interventions like those on Harbord boost ridership across Toronto?
Cycle Toronto will continue this conversation as a part of the City of Toronto’s Feeling Congested? consultation process. Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat will join Cycle Toronto at noon on Sunday June 23rd at Nathan Phillips Square for a two hour ride to discuss the role cycling plays in reducing automobile and transit congestion. The ride will include discussion of the City’s Draft Bicycle Policy Framework and Draft Rapid Transit Decision Making Framework. For more information or to sign up to join the ride, please go to our Bike Month 2013 website or the Feeling Congested? website.