The Bike Plan is certainly an optimistic start to building better cycling infrastructure in Toronto. It could certainly use a bit more creativity, and well, it's not really on schedule... but it's a start.
I like it but implementation needs to change. Not only is it going *way* behind schedule, the choices made aren't the best. It needs to be looked at as a network and not as individual lanes. Imagine if they rolled out telephone or electrical service in the city this way?
In an ideal world I think we could see a year or two with focus downtown to get that network well established, and then maybe pick an inner suburb or two, get the connection built between it and downtown as well as the network there.. So 2010, downtown gets major progress, 2011 the focus is, say Scarborough and the connections between Scarborough and downtown, 2012, Etobicoke, etc...
But for crying out LOUD - can we start enforcing the no parking rules? Is it really a bike plan or a parking plan?
Speaking of parking. On the Sherbourne bridge the TTC uses these bike lanes for parking buses while the drivers take breaks.
And here's a story in today's TheStar.com about bike infrastructure in Toronto, I can't believe they link to a Vimeo video:
Until recently bicycle safety wasn't an issue most Torontonians thought about, but in Copenhagen it is something of an obsession, one that landed the mayor her job.
The recent death of cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard raised many questions about bicycle safety in Toronto. Similar questions were swirling when Copenhagen's Ritt Bjerregaard, now the lord mayor, made election promises in 2006 to improve bike culture.
"The lord mayor and the deputy mayor responsible for transportation (often called the "bike mayor") ran a campaign on better conditions for cycling," says Niels Jensen, a Copenhagen city planner who works on cycling infrastructure in a city dominated by bikes.
After the election win, Bjerregaard mandated an ambitious cycling policy to be achieved by 2015.
Beyond expanding the city's already sizeable bicycle path network, safety and security are at the top of the Copenhagen Cycle Policy. The goal is an 80 per cent reduction in cycling accidents by 2015.
"You look at your network and examine where you have the most accidents," Jensen says.
While Copenhagen's streets feature buffered cycling lanes (most are elevated or have a small curb between them and the street) intersections are where most accidents occur. "So we have withdrawn the stop lines for cars five metres back so drivers can better see the cyclists."
Jensen says a second, advance, green light has also been added at many problematic intersections so bikers have a short head start to get through, about four seconds.
Blue bike crossing lanes have also been added through intersections, "to raise the awareness of car drivers."
"When you get to a critical mass of cyclists then car drivers will start to look for them," explains Jensen, who says accident rates in Copenhagen drop as the number of cyclists on the road increases.
Which is a good thing, considering the 2015 goal is to have half of the city's 1.5 million residents commuting by bike. Right now, 37 per cent do so, Jensen says.
Some of Copenhagen's initiatives might soon be seen in Toronto, according to Daniel Egan, this city's manager of cycling infrastructure and programs.
"We're looking at marking the bike lanes through intersections, that's where the conflicts take place," Egan says. Instead of the Copenhagen blue, Toronto intersections will feature chevrons or bike symbols. And Egan says the city will start testing an advanced bike line at intersections with a bike box in the left lanes that would run in front of cars, giving cyclists turning left a head start.
As for a special signal for bikes at intersections, Egan says, "I think it will come eventually." He also says the city is looking into physical barriers to separate bike lanes.
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