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72% of Torontonians want Separated Bikelanes downtown

The headline for this Toronto Star article is about opposition to road tolls to pay for Mayor Ford’s enormous (and unfunded) subway plans, but if you read past the first few paragraphs, you’ll see that in a telephone poll (PDF) conducted by Forum Research found that a “whopping” 72% of those surveyed support the rumoured upcoming plan to put physically-separate bikelanes on 4 downtown streets:

Separated bike lanes, on the other hand, garnered a whopping 72 per cent support.

This month, Ford’s bike plan is to be unveiled, proposing separated lanes on Sherbourne, Wellesley, Harbord, Beverly, John and Richmond streets.

These two posts have some background on this issue:

And here’s a map of where the separated bikelanes are being planned:

[Photo of Montreal Bikelanes and Bixi by Bikeroo, Map by National Post]

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Despite Campaign, Fort York Bridge proclaimed Dead

The Fort York Pedestrian and Cyclist Bridge is, for all intents and purposes, dead.

Some background, in case you haven’t been following along:

You may remember our post from a couple weeks ago when the Public Works Committee decided that a beautiful pedestrian and cyclist bridge that would link historic Fort York (and waterfront neighbourhoods) to the park system and neighbourhoods north of the railway tracks along the waterfront) cost too much money and it would be better to scrap it, ignoring the attractions of such a bridge to area residents (north and south of the tracks), condominium developers, and Toronto in general.

The bridge (and it’s supporters) are not going quietly into the night however.

A Save the Fort York Pedestrian Bridge website has been set up (with online petition) and many prominent City Councillors and former mayoral (and premier) candidates (John Tory) are lining themselves up to save the bridge.

 

Despite the best efforts of Councillor Mike Layton and almost half of City Council, 2/3 of Council did not support Layton’s motion to move the matter from Committee (Public Works) to Council (in order to have a proper discussion and debate about it).

This wasn’t just a cycling infrastructure project – this was a project for cyclists, pedestrians, 2 neighbourhoods (north and south of the railway tracks) and condo developers.  This was a city building project.

It wasn’t cheap, but who said building a quality city is cheap?  Do we really want to build a cheap city?  23 of the 45 people on Council do – and this is who they are (the NO votes):

[thanks to BlogTO from grabbing the above image from the motion documents]

Related News Articles:

 

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Two Things you can do to Support the Fort York Bridge

This information is from Save the Fort York Bridge , who is publicizing the following to help drum up support for overturning the decision to scrap the beautiful pedestrian and cyclist bridge planned for Fort York:

1. 1000 Letters to Mayor. The Battle Is On To Save The Fort York Bridge
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=144787658927784

Thu May 12 between 4pm to 7pm at 15 Stafford Street

Call To Action: Torontonians
We plan to deliver 1000 letters to Mayor Ford and Cc to Councillor Mike Layton, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong and Councillor David Shiner. Be part of this. Drop by and sign the letters.

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=144787658927784

 

 


2. Garrison Creek: Discover The Missing Link with Councillor Layton
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=165887126804565
Sat May 14 between 1pm to 2:30pm; starting point Trinity Bellwoods, northeast corner at Dundas/Shaw 

Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe founded modern urban Toronto (i.e. Town of York), when he established Fort York in 1793. At that time, Garrison Creek flowed in a large deep ravine with several tributaries, from north of St. Clair Avenue to Lake Ontario. The creek had sparkling clear water and was famous for its salmon fishing. The British built Fort York at the mouth of the creek to guard against possible American attempts to invade Canada.

Walk with Councillor Mike Layton as we join Garrison Creek from a starting point of Trinity Bellwoods at the northwest corner (Dundas/Shaw). The route leads you along the now-buried Garrison Creek valley from the park down to Lake Ontario.

Discover the missing link.

Walk it. Bike it. Bring your dog.

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=165887126804565

 


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Join the Email Campaign to save the Fort York Bridge

You may remember our post from a couple weeks ago when the Public Works Committee decided that a beautiful pedestrian and cyclist bridge that would link historic Fort York (and waterfront neighbourhoods) to the park system and neighbourhoods north of the railway tracks along the waterfront) cost too much money and it would be better to scrap it, ignoring the attractions of such a bridge to area residents (north and south of the tracks), condominium developers, and Toronto in general.

The bridge (and it’s supporters) are not going quietly into the night however.

A Save the Fort York Pedestrian Bridge website has been set up (with online petition) and many prominent City Councillors and former mayoral (and premier) candidates (John Tory) are lining themselves up to save the bridge.

If you haven’t signed the petition yet, be sure and do that… but more importantly, call and/or email your local city councillor – they pay a lot of attention to feedback from citizens.

The Save the Fort York Pedestrian Bridge website has some suggested text to email, but feel free to edit or change it yourself:

Dear Mayor (or Councillor),

I am writing to you as a proud citizen of the City of Toronto to express my surprise and disappointment at the decision by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee to refer the matter of the Fort York Pedestrian Cycle Bridge back to staff, and to strongly urge you and City Council to reconsider this decision at its May 17th meeting.

The development of The Fort York Pedestrian Cycle Bridge was conceived to be a key waterfront revitalization project that would improve access to the historic fort, spur local development, link a network of parks, and allow cyclists to avoid busy streets.

The motion to refer this matter back to staff, as presented to City Council, does more than just postpone the pedestrian bridge – it effectively kills it.
This is simply unacceptable.

As a resident of the community most affected by the cancellation of this important economic, historic and environmental project, I ask that you consider the resources already invested into advancing and developing this project and in particular to consider the many benefits that this landmark project will deliver to our local communities and indeed the City of Toronto.

I respectfully and urgently request that you ask Council to reconsider this costly decision and allow the development of The Fort York Pedestrian Cycle Bridge to proceed as planned.

 

Here are the email addresses of the mayor and all the City Councillors, if you don’t know which one is yours, you can look that up here:

mayor_ford@toronto.ca,
councillor_ainslie@toronto.ca,
councillor_augimeri@toronto.ca,
councillor_bailao@toronto.ca,
councillor_berardinetti@toronto.ca,
councillor_carroll@toronto.ca,
councillor_cho@toronto.ca,
councillor_colle@toronto.ca,
councillor_crawford@toronto.ca,
councillor_crisanti@toronto.ca,
councillor_davis@toronto.ca,
councillor_debaeremaeker@toronto.ca,
councillor_delgrande@toronto.ca,
councillor_digiorgio@toronto.ca,
councillor_doucette@toronto.ca,
councillor_filion@toronto.ca,
councillor_fletcher@toronto.ca,
councillor_dford@toronto.ca,
councillor_fragedakis@toronto.ca,
councillor_grimes@toronto.ca,
councillor_holyday@toronto.ca,
councillor_kelly@toronto.ca,
councillor_layton@toronto.ca,
councillor_lee@toronto.ca,
councillor_lindsay_luby@toronto.ca,
councillor_mammoliti@toronto.ca,
councillor_matlow@toronto.ca,
councillor_mcconnell@toronto.ca,
councillor_mcmahon@toronto.ca,
councillor_mihevc@toronto.ca,
councillor_milczyn@toronto.ca,
councillor_minnan-wong@toronto.ca,
councillor_moeser@toronto.ca,
councillor_nunziata@toronto.ca,
councillor_palacio@toronto.ca,
councillor_parker@toronto.ca,
councillor_pasternak@toronto.ca,
councillor_perks@toronto.ca,
councillor_perruzza@toronto.ca,
councillor_robinson@toronto.ca,
councillor_shiner@toronto.ca,
councillor_stintz@toronto.ca,
councillor_thompson@toronto.ca,
councillor_vaughan@toronto.ca,
councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca,

save@fortyorkbridge.ca,

bridge@bikingtoronto.com

 

City Council meets on Tuesday (the 17th) and Wednesday (the 18th) next week, so be sure and write the Mayor and City Council before then (and get your friends to do it too!)

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The Strange Tale of the Politics of Separated Bikelanes

Minnan-Wong in the Sherbourne bikelane

The National Post has an interesting article about Seinfeld-esque Bizarro World that is forming around the issue of separated bikelanes in Toronto.

Denzil Minnan-Wong, head of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, is pushing a plan of 4 streets in downtown Toronto having physically-separate bikelanes to ensure safety for cyclists (which includes novice and tourist cyclists on Bixi Toronto bikes). Minnan-Wong has not been the biggest supporter of bike infrastructure in the past, voting against Bixi Toronto (he has since come around), the University Ave. separate bikelane (he helped defeat this bikelane) and the Jarvis bikelane (he failed to defeat this one).  Needless to say, it’s weird having Minnan-Wong, a big Rob Ford ally, promoting great bike infrastructure.

 

Vaughan speaking about something at City Hall

The most vocal opponent on Council of this plan is Adam Vaughan, the most prominent anti-Ford Councillor at City Hall these days.  Most of the proposed separated bikelanes fall in his ward, and it sounds like he’s against it because Minnan-Wong is for it.  He also is very critical of the Toronto Cyclists Union for endorsing this plan – because they are trying to work with the Ford Administration in promoting bike infrastructure.

 

So… what’s going on here?  Here are some things to remember:

1) Minnan-Wong deserves credit for pursuing a forward-looking policy meant to increase safety for cyclists in downtown Toronto.  This will not only increase safety for the cyclists there are, but encourage new cyclists to hit the road too.  At the same time, Minnan-Wong is a councillor in North York (and part of Scarborough)… so pushing for bikelanes downtown is different than pushing for bikelanes in his own ward.

2) Adam Vaughan should not be criticized too harshly.  He’s doing a great job of pointing out the failings of the Ford Regime at City Hall, and if this passion prevents him from seeing the benefits of this bikelane plan, then so be it.  This is also HIS ward we’re talking about – and he has to balance the needs and wants of ALL of his constituents when doing his job.  He wasn’t elected to only represent the cyclists (or wannabe cyclists) in his ward… he represents all of the people there, even the ones who didn’t vote for him.

3) The Toronto Cyclists Union has a mandate to work with whoever is in power at City Hall to promote bike infrastructure and make the streets of Toronto friendlier for those on two wheels.  This is equally applicable with Mayor Rob Ford as it was with Mayor David Miller.

What do you think of this strange situation? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

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