In recent months, Toronto cyclists have won a major victory. The city now has two crosstown, separated bollard bike lanes on Adelaide and Richmond. These lanes mean that cyclists finally have safe and efficient ways to commute East-West through Toronto’s downtown core. More importantly, the project shows that Hogtown’s often-dysfunctional government is recognizing the importance of cycling infrastructure in a growing city.
But if Torontonians want to decrease congestion, increase road safety, and promote healthy living, more bike infrastructure is necessary. Below, Regal takes a look at major cycling projects that could greatly affect the future of Toronto transit, and hopefully inspire similar projects across Canada.
Expanding Bike Share Toronto
Formerly known as Bixi, Bike Share Toronto is a City-owned network of 800 bicycles and docking stations spread out across downtown Toronto. It is an affordable, short-term renting system that functions 24-7, 365 days a year, and a great alternative to public transportation and taxis. As it stands, Bike Share functions only within the core, and this needs to change. While 20 new stations will be installed in 2015 in service of the Toronto Pan American Games, additional bikes and stations are needed to service commuters across the city, and increase the program’s revenue stream. Many City officials have also expressed the need to build Bike Share stations outside of TTC subway stations—think about it: you’d never have to wait for a bus or street car again! Toronto councilors are allowed to use their ward budgets to pay for new bikes and stations, but this is not enough. If you want to see Bike Share grow, you have to talk to your councilors and promote bike culture in Toronto.
New bike lanes on Queens Quay
Toronto’s Queens Quay—a boulevard that connects Lake Ontario to downtown and several emerging communities—is currently experiencing dramatic change. In the next few years, Torontonians will be able to come to the lake and enjoy beautiful park space, ride cruiser bikes on the boardwalks, public art, and architecture, as well as a new right-of-way streetcar route, and most notably, dedicated bike lanes. A new stretch of the Martin Goodman Trail, which connects Etobicoke to Scarborough, will make biking along the lake a joy. This is a stretch of town that was previously unfriendly to cyclists; one to be avoided if possible thanks to traffic and confusing detours. Waterfront Toronto wants to expand its bike network to other regions along the lake, but their ambition is, of course, a question of money and public demand. Supporting Waterfront Toronto and their endeavours will go a long way to improving cycling in the city.
Woonerfs in the West Don Lands and beyond
In 2014, in the newly built West Don Lands community, Toronto opened its first woonerf, a Dutch concept that literally translates to “living street.” The idea is that pedestrians, cyclists, and automobilists share a curb-less path without signage where all parties are respected and allowed to enjoy the urban space. In a woonerf, children can play, trucks can make deliveries, and people move through the city. “It does work, but people have to get accustomed to it,” says Christopher Glaisek, Vice President for Planning and Design at Waterfront Toronto. Other woonerfs have appeared in Regent Park and St. Lawrence Market, but why stop there? Why limit this model—which exists in the thousands in the Netherlands—to new, almost suburban-like neighbourhoods? Toronto is a diverse city, capable of absorbing and adapting to new modes of thinking and transit. It’s not just about sharing the road in a few communities, it’s about sharing the city itself.