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Toronto’s Bike Plan Switches Gears

Photo by Richard Lautens, Toronto Star

Photo by Richard Lautens, Toronto Star

Toronto Star article out today (the first day of BikeMonth) about the new emphasis from Toronto cycling staff on quality rather than quantity.  2010 is seeing an emphasis on improving downtown bicycle infrastructure – partly due to that’s where most cyclists are, and partly due to Bixi Toronto starting next year.

As he nears the end of his term, Heaps is advocating a new approach, one that focuses less on distance and more on connecting the city’s existing network of bike paths, lanes and routes, particularly downtown, with its high percentage of bike commuters.

“I’m not going to go out there and pump paint to hit a quota,” he said. “Complete the circle, make it smaller, do it right. I’d rather have a smaller network that was fully integrated.”

I think this is a good plan – while infrastructure is perhaps needed less downtown (due to lower traffic speeds and more cyclists being there already), having more of it there will encourage non-cyclists to try it out there more (especially with the huge influxes of downtown residents that go along with constant condominium construction).

Cycling advocates have been too focused on how many km of bikelanes we have in the city.  That’s not important.  What’s important is making people on bikes feel safe – whether via bikelanes or just good street planning.

  • duncan

    I want to be optimistic here, but this sounds less like we’re “changing gears” and more like we’ve been “derailed.”

    We absolutely need better connections to offroad paths and trails but in many instances these are minor projects. We absolutely need to fix the quality of existing bike routes, but once again, these appear to also be minor projects, and things the city should already be doing.

    Of course, there doesn’t appear to be much information on how or what they’ll actually be doing to complete the downtown bikeways. Will they be sticking to the original Bike Plan ( http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/bikeplan/index.htm )? Only without the added bike lanes?

    At least I’ll have more recreational trails to ride on the weekends.

  • Toronto Sun story on this: Plan to connect all of Toronto’s bike paths

    Over the next few years, four trail connections will be built, including the Martin Goodman Trail along with waterfront. It will be upgraded with a new trail along Queen’s Quay to connect the network in the central section.

    More than 30 km will be built in the Gatineau and Finch hydro corridors across North York and Scarborough. and the new CN Leaside Rail Trail will close the gap to connect the waterfront to Steeles Ave., which will form part of the bikeway that Toronto and York Region are planning to connect Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe.

  • I’m calling BS on this one and voting with Duncan. It sounds to me like justification for poor performance or at least justification for election year derailing of the plan.

    After all, we *have* a bike plan that’s got integrated routes. Distance and intelligent route choice are not either/or prospects, after all.

  • It *is* frustrating. Don’t get me wrong.

    The implementation has been all wrong, of course. They *should* have started in the core and put in all the planned lanes there… then as cycling numbers ramped up there cyclists would start branching out outside the core.. so that’s when the city would start implementing them in the outer core (ie. old city of Toronto) and slowly moving, radiating out to all of the old Metro.

    Instead, they followed the path of least resistance and put them here and there where it was politically easy to do.

    It seems like they may be “re-booting” the process to follow what I describe above?

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