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The War on Bikes Part 2: Toronto's Sherbourne Street Bike Lanes

“Today is a modest step forward. Most importantly, it is a sign of the things to come,” Mayor Rob Ford (June 2013)

The city now points to the separated bike lane on Sherbourne Street as a signal it is beginning to come around to bike lanes in the city and is even willing to invest the extra money for curb-separated lanes. However, it is still littered with the same ignorance and misunderstandings that caused the slowing of bike lane development across the city and even the reversal in some areas (Jarvis). Any of our fixed gear friends here at Regal, or cyclists at large will know that the lane doubles for a bus stop, taxi stand and delivery area, depending on the time of day.

Sherbourne is arguably a little too far East, (limiting its potential ridership) and may not be in the optimal direction. Pedestrians and cyclists can with relative ease cover a distance North-South on the Yonge-Spadina subway line (which allows Bikes during non-rush hour times). Would we rather HAVE Sherbourne than not have Sherbourne? Of course. But we’re worried that the minimal political will for bike-positive infrastructure that does exist on city council has been all spent on the Sherbourne lane. Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star has a great opinion piece on the bike lane that you can check out here.

“Downtown, obviously, people cycle a lot. You can’t really compare, obviously, the suburbs to downtown. You won’t see me cycling from Etobicoke down here…Some people might want to do that and all the power to them. But I think this is the first step in having [an] integrated bike lane system down here. And that’s what the people want downtown; they want to have bike paths.” – Mayor Rob Ford (June 2013)

The quote above certainly indicates that a lot has changed in the views of Councilor Rob Ford vs. elected Mayor Rob Ford. So what has changed in the past 3-6 years?

More people are biking and the cyclist as an interest group is being increasingly seen as a legitimate voting base. Politics, after all, will always be politics and election season is right around the corner. But what of the change in tune - what does it mean?

  • Does a quote like that mean there will be interest in cycling across the political spectrum?
  • Will this initial level of political pandering turn into actual change?
  • If people want lanes downtown, where is our major East-West biking artery?
  • How many contests in wards across Toronto will be affected by candidates’ stance on bike lanes?

We here at Regal Bicycles can’t wait to find out the answers to these questions. And you can be sure we will be voting with our hearts and wheels.

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