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.