Cycle Toronto Observes More Bikes than Cars on College Street
Submitted by Jared Kolb on 13 December, 2013 - 10:38
Torontonians are commuting by bicycle more now than ever, and in record numbers.
Cycle Toronto observed this trend this fall, when it counted more bikes than cars on College St. On Thurs Sept 19th, from 5pm to 6pm, Cycle Toronto counted 680 bikes and 618 cars travelling westbound. The overall bicycle mode share was 52%, and one 15-minute interval had a mode share of 57%. This hourly count occurred within an overall westbound count between 4:30pm and 6:30pm of 1,150 bikes and 1,227 cars (48% bikes, 52% cars). Since 2010, bike traffic on College St has increased by 67%!
Illustration by Mike Himmel. Bicycle counts completed by John Taranu, Burns Wattie and Antony Hilliard. Special thanks to the University of Toronto Cycling Think and do Tank for enabling the counts. Our counts are available here and the raw video here . Download & share the graphic file attached at the bottom of this page.
The City of Toronto did similar counts at College & Spadina in September 2010. On a clear sunny day in September, there were only 408 bikes per hour in the afternoon rush hour. In 3 years, bicycle traffic on College St has increased by 67%. During rush hour, the westbound College St bike lane moves about the same number of people as both westbound vehicular travel lanes. In other words, if given a safe option, a significant number of people will commute by bike.
“It’s incredible,” commented Jared Kolb, Executive Director of Cycle Toronto. “It’s the first time in Toronto’s history that we’ve seen a major arterial roadway in Toronto move more bicycles than motor vehicles in a single direction. It’s a testament to the increasing importance bicycles play in Toronto’s transportation mix.”
Reducing congestion & expanding transit are widely discussed themes across Toronto. Bicycles, however, have largely been absent in Toronto’s transit discussion. Investments in bicycle infrastructure are low cost, high impact interventions to get Torontonians moving. 19% of the roadway on College St at Spadina Ave is reserved for cyclists and 81% is reserved for motor vehicles. However, in the peak of rush hour, the westbound bicycle lane on College St carried more vehicular traffic than both westbound motor vehicle lanes combined.
Network of protected bike lanes and low speed roads needed to get Toronto moving
55% of all trips in Toronto are less than 7 kilometres in length, which can typically be travelled by bicycle in 30 minutes or less (Source: Road to Health). Cycling is an increasingly critical way in which Torontonians move around the city. According to recent polling data, 7% - or 182,000 Torontonians - are now cycling every day. 69% of Torontonians want to ride more often, but the lack of safe cycling infrastructure is holding them back.
Toronto’s bicycle network inadequately serves the city. The 2001 Bike Plan called for 495 kms of bicycle lanes to be built; today, the city has just 111.6 kms of bicycle lanes (Source: City of Toronto). Last year, Toronto added net zero kms of bicycle lanes. Significantly, we have fewer kilometres of bicycle lanes today than we did in 2009. Even the College St bike lanes, where the counts were conducted, only run for 2.2km from one end to the other.
City Council must get serious about cycling and accelerate the installation of safe cycling infrastructure across Toronto. Specifically,
- Transit: All higher-order transit lines such as subways and LRTs should be supported by bicycle lanes and comprehensive bicycle parking. The Bloor-Danforth, Yonge and University corridors should all have high quality physically separated bike lanes, giving transit riders an alternative to avoid overcrowded subways.
- Schools: All schools should be connected by networks of bicycle lanes and low-speed residential roads and supported by comprehensive bicycle parking to enable students to get to school by bicycle.
- Winter Cycling: The City should develop a comprehensive network of snow routes for cyclists that receive priority clearing that helps Torontonians to stay on their bicycles across the 4 seasons.
Cycling infrastructure is an affordable, efficient and quick way to get Torontonians moving. With the right investment, College St is an example of the gains we can make city-wide.
Cycle Toronto is a diverse, member-supported organization that advocates for a healthy, safe cycling-friendly city for all.
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