Toronto city council approves bike lane pilot project on Bloor
'This sends a signal that the city of Toronto is taking cycling seriously,' activist says
As early as August, Toronto cyclists will be able to travel through a long stretch of Bloor Street in separated bike lanes, after council voted 38 to 3 in favour of the pilot project on Wednesday.
"This is the right thing to do," Mayor John told council.
"The notion of trying a bike lane for a year on a pilot project basis on Bloor Street is not a revolutionary idea," Tory said in his remarks to council just before the vote.
Councillor Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 20, where the lanes will be installed, says the vote is a strong show of support for cycling in Toronto.
"It reflects and shows that our city has moved past the debates and divisions of old and demonstrates that bike lanes are a win-win for everybody," Cressy told reporters following the vote.
Council voted to adopt staff recommendations to install 2.5 kilometres of separated bike lanes on Bloor between Avenue Road and Shaw Street, at a cost of about $500,000. During the one-year pilot project city staff will track bicycle and motor vehicle traffic, as well as feedback from the local community, and report back to council in 2017.
City staff say installing the bike lanes will mean 135 on-street parking spaces will be lost on Bloor Street as well as $840,000 annually in parking revenue.
Coun. Mike Layton, meanwhile, showed his support for the bike lanes with a nod to Star Wars — which was appropriate since the vote took place on May the Fourth.
'War on the car'
While the motion passed easily, some city councillors used the meeting to voice strong opposition to bike lanes and the debate saw the return of the car versus bike rhetoric so prevalent at city hall a few years ago.
"The war on the car continues," Ward 7 Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti told council during the debate on the motion this morning.
Mammoliti said he does not support the plan and will never support bike lanes on roads.
Other councillors, while not philosophically opposed to the idea of bike lanes, have concerns with the Bloor project.
Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong voted in favour of the motion but isn't convinced Bloor Street is a suitable location for bike lanes. The Ward 34 councillor tried, unsuccessfully, to amend the motion to include more consultation and data collection throughout the pilot project.
Minnan-Wong is also concerned about bike lane "creep."
"Are there going to be bike lanes on Danforth next?" he asked reporters.
Cycling advocates were pleased with the outcome of the vote. Several of them watched the entire bike lane debate, which lasted several hours.
"This sends a signal that the city of Toronto is taking cycling seriously," Jared Kolb, the executive director of Cycle Toronto told reporters after the vote.
Kolb says the design of Bloor plan — with a physical barrier, and in some cases parking spaces, separating the bike lane from live traffic — will encourage more people to cycle instead of drive.
"This is going to attract a different kind of cyclist. This is going to attract folks who don't feel comfortable riding on main streets."