Easy Riding: Low-Stress Bike Lanes for Toronto
Making Cycling Easy
Riding on busy, crowded streets, mixed in with fast moving cars can be a stressful experience for any cyclist. We want to de-stress cycling for Torontonians.
Ridership rises when biking is easy, safe and comfortable. A study from Portland, Oregon found that 60% of people are interested but concerned about cycling for transportation. Protected lanes can help that 60% cycle more often, helping us create a transportation system that is easier, safer, more sustainable and more fun.
Protected bike lanes (also called cycle tracks or separated bike lanes), designed properly and put in the right places, are key to de-stressing cycling. All protected bike lanes are physically separated from car traffic, but there are many different ways to create that separation. Protected lanes can be minimal and inexpensive, with bollards or on-street parking creating the barrier, or they can be more elaborate, using medians, planters and raised pathways. The most appropriate type of separation (or whether the lane should be separate at all) depends on a number of factors, like the speed and volume of traffic, the number of intersections and the space available.
There is a huge amount of support for protected bike lanes in Toronto. A recent Forum research survey found that 72% of Torontonians support separated bike lanes, and a 2009 city of Toronto survey [PDF] found that 77% of those surveyed felt that separating bike lanes from car traffic would improve cycling a great deal. Another 18% felt that separation would improve cycling “somewhat.”
Many of Toronto's streets are excellent candidates for the easy riding treatment. A network of protected bike lanes through Toronto's busy downtown streets will make it accessible for cyclists ranging from experienced riders to those just starting out. One of the key recommendations from the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation's report "Building Better Cycling Arteries in Cities" is considering on-street, separated bike lanes on arterials. Protected lanes will help de-stress Toronto streets for everyone, increasing safety and ridership, while reducing conflicts between road users. Protected bike lanes are rising in popularity: they are being built and used across North America, in cities like Montréal, Vancouver, New York, Portland and Guelph.
This resource was designed for anyone interested (or concerned) about protected bike lanes. If we are going to create protected bike lanes in Toronto, they will need to address the needs of all road users, not just cyclists. Here, we've collected a range of experiences and research on protected bike lanes from other cities that can help Toronto become an easy riding city where cycling is safe, comfortable and fun. The menu at the top right has links to more information and resources on individual topics.