Toronto expands bike share program 'into all corners' of city during pandemic
Residents want 'transportation alternatives,' says Mayor John Tory
Toronto is expanding its bike sharing network "into all corners of the city" to ensure that residents have transportation options when they want to get somewhere.
Mayor John Tory announced the plans on Tuesday in Nathan Phillips Square, saying the expansion of Bike Share Toronto into 20 out of the city's 25 wards will begin on Wednesday. The news means the program will cover 200 square kilometres of the city.
Tory said the city will add 1,850 new bicycles,160 stations and 3,615 docking points to its existing network. The expansion also includes the launch of two Bike Share pilot areas in North York and Scarborough, each of which will have up to eight new stations.
"Residents are looking for different and yet safe ways to get around the city," Tory told reporters.
"And as we continue to respond to the pandemic and make our plans for the post-pandemic period, residents want to go outside. They want to be active. They want to have those transportation alternatives. And it's our job as a city to make that happen."
Once the expansion takes place, Bike Share Toronto will have 6,850 bikes, 625 stations and 12,000 docking points in all in the city.
Tory said there will be stations located as far north as Yonge Street and Yonge Boulevard, as far west as Long Branch GO station, and as far east as Danforth Avenue and Birchmount Road. Stations will also be installed in Swansea, the Queensway-Humber Bay, York and O'Connor-Parkview.
In North York, bike-share stations will be installed along the Finch Hydro corridor near Finch West subway station and near York University. In Scarborough, stations will be installed near Guildwood GO station, along the Highland Creek Trail, near the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, the Rouge Hill GO station and the waterfront trail.
Expansion follows launch of ActiveTO
The expansion comes after the city launched ActiveTO, a program of weekend street closures that enables residents to exercise outdoors on major roads while maintaining physical distancing.
It also comes after city council approved an expansion of its cycling network plan, which involves the installation of 25 kilometres of new bike lanes and the accelerated installation of 15 kilometres of previously planned bike lanes.
"A big part of expansion is ensuring that all corners of this city will have access to bike share," Tory said.
"This will mean that people can use the bikes to come all the way down to the core, if they choose to do so, to take advantage of programs like Active TO, or they can use it as well to get to other ActiveTO routes, or to get to places even within their own neighbourhoods."
Coun. Brad Bradford, who represents Ward 19, Beaches-East York, said the expansion means Bike Share Toronto is entering "further regions" of the city.
"As the economy starts to reopen, people want to get back out to their mom-and-pop shops and support their local businesses. Active transportation is a critical way to do that," Bradford said.
"It's a 21st century approach and it's the perfect response for the moment we are in right now."
Residents can use Bike Share Toronto by buying a day pass or becoming an annual member. Members can use bikes for 30 minutes at a time before extra usage fees apply.
E-bike pilot program coming in August
The expansion includes the launch of an e-bike pilot program in August. The program will have 300 pedal-assist e-bikes, or electric bikes, and 10 e-bike charging stations.
According to the city, the pedal-assist e-bikes allow users to travel up to 25 kilometres per hour.
The e-bikes can travel up to 70 kilometres without a recharge.
E-bike charging stations are fully compatible with the rest of the bike-share system, allowing both manual and e-bikes to be docked in any regular or e-bike charging station, the city said in a news release on Tuesday.