Toronto makes strides to be a more cyclist-friendly city

The Bloor Street Bike Lane Pilot Project was approved in May of 2016. By late August, the construction of 2.4 kilometers of separated bike lanes along Bloor Street West, between Shaw Street and Avenue Road, was completed. Last week, city council voted 36-6 to keep the separated bicycle lanes in place.

The number of cyclists using this bikeway has increased by 49 percent since this project was implemented — quickly making it the second most widely used bikeway in Toronto—according to statistics from the City of Toronto,

Last year, a decade-long plan was approved to create a bike lane network. Keeping the Bloor bike lanes is a step to making Toronto a more cyclist-friendly city.

Making room for bicycle lanes has always been controversial and met with great resistance from community members, as well as politicians.

Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle T.O., says “there’s no question that our political system has held us back from being able to build the kind of network of protected bike lanes that I think people who live downtown recognize as a priority.”

Debates surrounding the creation of bike lanes quickly deteriorate into polarized battles of motorists versus cyclists competing for limited road space. But experts of infrastructure make the assertion that bike lanes benefit everyone on the road.

“This is about cities being better for everyone: healthier, more sustainable, much more cost effective, and just able to move more people in less space,” states Brent Toderian, the president of the Council of Canadian Urbanism.

Toderian continues, “urban biking, like transit, is critically important for cities to work better for everyone, including drivers.”

The hope is as more people are inspired to bike where they need to go and feel it is safe to do so, motorized traffic will decrease.

Currently, there is a modest increase in travel time along this stretch of Bloor Street West, ranging between 2 to 4 minutes during peak periods and directions.

Photo | Hana Nikcevic