Bloor Street bike lanes open to the delight of Toronto cyclists

Dozens of cyclists held a group ride to officially open the Bloor Street bike lanes on Friday morning, while city officials said they’ll be keeping a close eye on the lanes during the coming year.

City will monitor lane usage, effect on traffic for 1 year

Cyclists young and old rode the Bloor Street bike lanes for the first time on Friday. The lanes will be in place for at least one year as the city conducts a pilot project. (Submitted by Martin Reis)

Dozens of cyclists rang their bells during a ride to officially open the Bloor Street bike lanes on Friday morning, while city officials said they'll be keeping a close eye on the lanes during the coming year.

The lanes, which the city is operating as a one-year pilot project, run from Avenue Road and Shaw Street and cost around $500,000 to install. Cyclists will be separated from moving traffic with posts, road paint and parked cars.

The bike lanes' price tag also includes maintenance costs, like snow clearing during the winter months, as well as money to study their effectiveness.

Cycle Toronto, which advocates for cyclist safety, staged a special ride to mark the occasion.

"We can't wait to ride down these hard-earned bike lanes with you," the organization said on its Facebook page.

Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 20 where the lanes will be installed, joined the ride and welcomed the new lanes. Both Cressy and Coun. Michael Layton were prominent backers of the plan, which council approved with a 38 to 3 vote in May.

In a city news release, Cressy said the lanes are "long overdue."

"Bike lanes on Bloor will be iconic for the City of Toronto and represent us becoming a leading, sustainable, world city," Layton said.  

City to study how lane affects parking, pedestrians

The city plans to evaluate the lanes based on their impact on local businesses, traffic flow, how cyclists are using them and how they affect pedestrians and parking.

Other considerations will also be factored in, like how the Bloor lane will change bike traffic on the nearby Harbord Street lane.

"Whenever we change the makeup of our streets, we must carefully measure and monitor the impact on our community," said Coun. Jaye Robinson, who is also the chair of the city's public works committee, in a news release.

Several groups will be studying the lanes, including the traffic data collection company Miovision, the University of Toronto's Transportation Research Institute and city agencies like the Toronto Parking Authority.

The city will also be seeking feedback from the public in the early fall.