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Bike lanes on Bloor must 'prove that bike infrastructure works,' Cressy says

The pilot project to build bike lanes on Bloor Street West this summer is a high-stakes chance to shape the future of cycling in the city, according to Toronto city councillor Joe Cressy.

City councillor believes pilot project will increase economic activity on Bloor Street

Toronto city councillor Joe Cressy said the pilot project for bike lanes on Bloor Street can be a "win-win" for everybody. (CBC News)

The pilot project to build bike lanes on Bloor Street West this summer is a high-stakes chance to shape the future of cycling in the city, according to Toronto city councillor Joe Cressy.

"If we fail, then we fail with cycling infrastructure throughout the city," Cressy told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway on Tuesday. "We won't fail, this will win at city council, and it will succeed."

The councillor for Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina, said he wants to show Toronto that bike lanes can be a "win-win" scenario for drivers, cyclists, and businesses alike. Cressy cited North American studies showing that bike lanes on main streets bring more shoppers, who tend to shop at more businesses.

"But we're not going to trust those studies that have been done," said Cressy.

Instead, Cressy said the city will look to an economic impact study commissioned by the Korea Town and Bloor Annex business improvement associations. The BIAs have already surveyed merchants and shoppers in the area, and will conduct another survey after the pilot bike lanes are installed to determine their impact.

"What we expect, and what I believe will happen, is there's going to be an increase in business, there's going to be an increase in economic activity along this stretch," said Cressy. "That's what we believe will happen, but we have to prove it."

What to expect from bike lanes on Bloor

The bike lanes, which Cressy said will be installed in August, will change the look of a stretch of Bloor Street West between Shaw Street to the west and Avenue Road to the east.

"You have a sidewalk, then you have a curbside bike lane, then you have a buffer, and then on either side of the street you'll have parked cars," said Cressy.

The lane will be separated with paint and pop-up bollards, Cressy said.

"We do that so that it's safer for people who ride, of all ages, safer for drivers, so you don't have the interaction, and safer for pedestrians."

The city proposes to install bike lanes on Bloor between Shaw and Avenue Road in both directions. It will add some left turn lanes to keep traffic moving. (City of Toronto)

Even though on-street parking does figure into the plan, Cressy said the bike lanes will ultimately result in a reduction in the number of parking spots. Still, he believes the pilot project will reduce traffic congestion.

"Transitioning people to the more active modes of transportation, walking, cycling, and public transit, is how we continue to keep our city moving quickly," said Cressy.

Bike lanes on Bloor Street have been discussed for decades, pointed out host Matt Galloway, who asked Cressy whether the long-awaited pilot project represents a symbolic victory.

"If Bloor is a symbol, it's a symbol because it is exactly where cycling infrastructure should be," said Cressy. "It's long, it's continuous, it's relatively flat, it doesn't have streetcar tracks, and it connects the city."