Con­vinc­ing sub­ur­ban home­own­ers to cy­cle

The hum­ble bi­cy­cle could help our city in many ways, but only if it is em­braced by more than just those who call down­town home

Annex Post - - NEWS - By Ron John­son

Toronto has a con­ges­tion prob­lem, and peo­ple are fed up. Could bi­cy­cles help? The sim­ple two-wheel­ers may hold the key to trans­form­ing our city the way they have Copen­hagen. We asked Toron­to­ni­ans for ideas that would help those liv­ing out­side the down­town core to give the two-wheeled com­mute a try.

An ex­press­way for bikes

Subur­ban­ites want to com­mute by bike. They like be­ing out­side, get­ting their car­dio and bomb­ing past backed up car traf­fic. The prob­lem is they don’t want to die or be maimed by drivers who are ag­gres­sively try­ing to get home for din­ner (and who in fact hold cy­clists in con­tempt).

The so­lu­tion is sim­ple. Sep­a­rated com­muter bike lanes di­rect from the ’burbs with no lights, no close calls and no fingers.

Don’t force us onto wa­ter­front trails with chil­dren, jog­gers and pets. Don’t force us into side streets so we have to zigzag and add un­nec­es­sary kilo­me­tres. Our fam­i­lies should not have to worry about us get­ting whacked. We have built 400-se­ries high­ways, QEW, the Gar­diner and the DVP for drivers. Time to do this for us. Build it and they will come.

Pa­trick Brown is a Toronto-based per­sonal in­jury lawyer with McLeish Or­lando LLP.

Mix and match modes

De­spite what ad­vo­cates might tell you, the bi­cy­cle in iso­la­tion will never to­tally re­place the car, as it lacks the re­quired range. Sim­i­larly, public tran­sit in and of it­self won’t sub­sti­tute for the au­to­mo­bile, as it lacks the nec­es­sary pen­e­tra­tion. But com­bine them into a sin­gle “bike-tran­sit” sys­tem, and a seam­less, door-todoor mo­bil­ity op­tion is un­locked, one ca­pa­ble of re­plac­ing thou­sands of car trips and re­duc­ing con­ges­tion. Not only does this stream­line the tran­sit sys­tem — al­low­ing for fewer stops, fur­ther apart — but it de­liv­ers more cus­tomers to the sys­tem and more cy­clists to the bike­ways, in a vir­tu­ous cir­cle of sus­tain­able trans­porta­tion. The Dutch have made a point of build­ing large bi­cy­cle parkades at ev­ery train sta­tion, and mak­ing rental sys­tems avail­able at the other side of the trip. Through those meth­ods, over 50 per cent of Dutch rail pas­sen­gers ar­rive by bike

Chris Bruntlett is an ar­chi­tec­tural de­signer and the co-founder of cy­cling web­site Mo­dac­ity.com.

In­cen­tivize cy­cling

Toronto is in the midst of a gi­gan­tic up­heaval. Within the next 10 years, we get to de­ter­mine whether we be­come the next global city or de­cide that “good enough” de­fines us. Where other global ci­ties have found cy­cling in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to mov­ing peo­ple around packed ur­ban cen­tres, we’ve in­cen­tivized park­ing. In Toronto I'd love to see bikes in­cen­tivized the same way cars are. Get­ting peo­ple out of cars will cre­ate a health­ier pop­u­la­tion. Re­duc­ing car us­age will lower road main­te­nance costs, free­ing up funds to fix more pot­holes and build safer roads for ev­ery­one.

Aaron Binder is a Toronto busi­ness owner and mem­ber of grass­roots po­lit­i­cal me­dia group A Strong Canada.

Elec­tric com­pany

Af­ter test­ing an e-bike on a cy­cling tour from Shanghai to Hanoi, I was amazed at how sim­ple and easy it was to ride an e-bike. In a city such as Toronto one would be able to reach his/her des­ti­na­tion faster than a car with­out any need to strain or sweat. This in­cludes any hills. If var­i­ous lev­els of gov­ern­ment would add an in­cen­tive in terms of a tax re­bate to buy an e-bike that would add to the speed at which this would hap­pen. Henry Gold is founder of TDA Global Cy­cling.

A lane to nowheresville

While the city’s cur­rent bike plan does in­clude the ex­pan­sion of the bike net­work into the suburbs, it’s only scratch­ing the sur­face, and as ever, these projects get mired and de­layed in the same old tired bat­tles at city hall (REimag­ine Yonge be­ing a prime ex­am­ple). Toron­to­ni­ans across all parts of this city de­serve a safe con­nected net­work of bike lanes so that it’s not just those who live down­town who are able to en­joy the myr­iad ben­e­fits of cy­cling trans­porta­tion. Want bike lanes? Call, email, tweet your lo­cal coun­cil­lor and Mayor John Tory to let them know. Yvonne Bam­brick is a long­time cy­cling ad­vo­cate and au­thor of The Ur­ban Cy­cling Sur­vival Guide.

Ch-ch-changes

Want to bike but worry about ar­riv­ing to work sweaty and di­sheveled? Or feel con­cerned about lock­ing up your bike out­side? A re­cent poll con­ducted for Share the Road Cy­cling Coali­tion found that 50 per cent of Toron­to­ni­ans would cy­cle more if there were bike park­ing fa­cil­i­ties at school or work. It would be great if, in ad­di­tion to more and bet­ter bike in­fra­struc­ture, the city pri­or­i­tized adding se­cure in­door bike stor­age, park­ing, change rooms and shower fa­cil­i­ties to give com­muters the green light to bike to work. Dur­ing June’s Bike Month fes­tiv­i­ties (May 28 to June 30), the city could also help pro­mote com­mut­ing be­yond Bike to Work Day by di­rect­ing re­sources to get­ting these fa­cil­i­ties in lo­cal work­places. Sarah Bradley is the com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for Cy­cle Toronto.

A pedal a day

I'm a fam­ily doc­tor. I spend a lot of my time coun­selling my pa­tients about what they can do to im­prove their health. Rid­ing a bike is one of the very best ways to do this. There have been sev­eral ma­jor stud­ies re­cently that show that peo­ple who com­mute to work by bi­cy­cle re­duce their risk of heart dis­ease, can­cer and other ill­nesses by half! That's bet­ter than any pill I can pre­scribe. Dr. Peter Sakuls is a fam­ily doc­tor and founder of the ad­vo­cacy group Doc­tors for Safe Cy­cling.

In Copen­hagen, com­muters can take their bi­cy­cles right on the train in spe­cial cars

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