In praise of bike lanes, the future of urban transport

Great news fellow Beachers: after years of neglect from the previous suburban-dominated, car-centric city council, our great city is once again moving progressively into the future – and the Beach is up to bat!  On June 22 and 23 the City of Toronto hosted two drop-in events for residents to learn more about the new bike lanes coming to our neighborhood.

I know this is great news for most Beach residents who understand the value of making our streets more vibrant, safe and accessible to all commuters (not just those with an exhaust pipe), as well as for those from neighborhoods to the north who would love a safe way to bike down to the Beach and not have to drive around in circles for 40 minutes looking for a place to park.

But I also know some people are very worried that the new bike lanes will add to an already difficult rush hour commute on Woodbine, while others are afraid the new lanes will force traffic onto their quiet side streets.

Let me say this: I understand your concerns, and trust me, more congestion and more idling cars in front of my house (on Woodbine!) is the last thing I want, too. But that’s precisely WHY we need to build these lanes!

Bike lanes and “complete streets” are part of the solution to several problems we face. Traffic congestion is just one, but there are also pollution, global warming, depression, sickness, mental health, and so on. Single occupant traffic is a major contributor to many of these same problems.

So here’s the thing: everyone wants to live in a city that is clean and pleasant, and easy to get around in – whether on foot, by bicycle or by car.

But if that’s truly what we want, then we have to build it. We can’t complain about traffic, and at the same time not build bike lanes for those who would love to leave their cars at home. We can’t complain about congestion, pollution, or angry Toronto drivers if we’re not going to do what it takes to build the future we want.

The days of prioritizing for the single occupant driver are over. Mass transit, cycling and walking are being prioritized by most forward looking cities. Even Mississauga (the place where people drive down the street for a loaf of bread) has decided to change its ways and start building healthier options for a more healthy and vibrant city.

I would also say that fears are overblown. Just take a look at Dundas Street. Dundas has become a great way for people to commute by bicycle and vehicle traffic still flows quite smoothly (without pouring into neighboring side streets). Don’t believe me? Just go over and ask those residents how they feel about the new bike lanes – I’m sure they’d love to tell you how it’s helped improve their neighborhood.

The future involves clean modes of healthy, low-pollution transportation where traffic flows quickly, safely and smoothly. Smart vehicles and smart traffic lights, as well as mass transit, are going to be major parts of that future – and so are cycling and walking. Let’s build the city we want to live in!

For full details on the Woodbine bike lanes and to fill out a feedback form  and share your opinion, visit toronto.ca/woodbinebikelanes.


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6 comments

Can you cite any actual evidence that bike lanes reduce vehicle use on any street in Toronto? It’s just as likely that bike lanes reduce TTC use and the TTC has had a huge drop in ridership revenue last year, so much so that their grant from the city may have to be increased to cover the shortfall. The notion that bike lanes reduce vehicle use may be nothing more that another hoary urban myth. Dundas rush hour traffic has been greatly slowed since the lanes were introduced. Suspicion is that some of that traffic has migrated south to Eastern and Lakeshore which is really slow at rush hours.

The future will be driverless cars -driverless taxis etc.

We have an aging population and bad weather much of the time – too hot, too cold, too wet.

Eventually we will have clean energy from solar or biofuels… meaning there will be little environmental benefit to using a bike, or if anything, the environmental impact of growing the food needed to cover the extra calories cyclists use will be worse for the environment than solar panels.

Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the 2 public meetings held on June 22,23 until July 10. I therefore also missed the deadline of July 8, where you could submit questions. Does anyone know why Woodbine Ave. was chosen over Coxwell Ave.? Coxwell Ave. is a much easier hill to climb than the 2 steep hills on Woodbine. Is this proposal solely based on a survey from May 7-11? What about the winter months? What’s the cost? What’s the hurry in having this installed? I don’t think that there has been enough public consultation. From the first meeting June 22, to a fall installation? It sure seems to me that they’re pushing this through asap.

re-In praise of bike lanes, the future of urban transport
Many cyclists come south on Elmer and then to get to Kippendavie, dangerously cut through the wee parkette. Then they hop into a school and nursery school drop off zone with cars parked on both sides of the road, jay walkiers with toddler in arms. Add to it cyclists coming up Kippendavie the wrong way. Will the new bike lanes, one block west, keep cyclists out of this area or add even more bikes to it? Seems to be no real plan for bikes in that area.

The sidestreets are empty – may be a bit longer getting up and down Woodbine but definitely fewer vehicles to contend with. Why do major vehicle lanes have to be sacrificed? Bet there would be fewer cyclist/vehicle accidents in using separate routes. As a resident in the area I would appreciate reducing the influx of cars that will now be on our sidestreets but no problem with bikes flowing through.
And how do vehicles in a single traffic lane pull over to the curb across a cycle lane for emergency vehicles to pass quickly? There is a community hospital in the area of Woobine/Coxwell and Mortimer and it will be expanding with increased traffic flow in the years to come. Very difficult to transport injured and sick quickly unless you are using a vehicle that is not impeded in any way.

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