A MA­JOR WIN FOR CY­CLISTS

Pi­lot project data shows way more rid­ers, im­proved driv­ing times and a bump to busi­nesses. With one more hur­dle left at city hall, the com­mu­nity is ral­ly­ing to make this per­ma­nent

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - Front Page - MAY WAR­REN

In Au­gust 2016, the city put a 2.4-kilo­me­tre stretch of sep­a­rated bike lanes on Bloor — from Shaw Street to Av­enue Road — as a one-year pi­lot project fol­low­ing years of ad­vo­cacy from cy­clists. The goal was to make the cor­ri­dor safer for ev­ery­one.

What hap­pened Wed­nes­day?

City staff de­liv­ered their ver­dict, based on tons of data, that the lanes should be kept per­ma­nently. Mayor Tory has al­ready come out in sup­port, cit­ing all the sup­port­ive data in the long-awaited re­port.

Coun­cil still has the fi­nal say, but the stamp of ap­proval gives cy­cle ad­vo­cates a lot of am­mu­ni­tion.

Did the lanes draw more cy­clists?

Big time.

Ac­cord­ing to the city’s new of­fi­cial num­bers, the pi­lot bike lanes have in­creased cy­cling on Bloor Street by 49 per cent — with 25 per cent of that be­ing new rid­ers — as of June 2017 com­pared to June 2016.

Look­ing at just the stretch of Bloor where the lanes were in­stalled, cy­cling is up 56 per cent, with an av­er­age of 5,220 week­day cy­clists. Bloor Street West now has the sec­ond-most-used bi­cy­cle in­fra­struc­ture in the city by vol­ume. The most-used is at Ade­laide and Rich­mond streets.

I thought the lanes in­creased driv­ing times?

A fall 2016 study from the city found that car travel times dur­ing the af­ter­noon peak pe­riod in­creased by eight min­utes and 25 sec­onds and by just over four min­utes in the morn­ing peak.

But the new re­port says the in­creased travel times have been cut in half, fol­low­ing sig­nal tim­ing tweaks.

What about safety?

The city ad­mits there isn’t that much data in only a year, but pre­lim­i­nary num­bers show near-miss col­li­sions are down and both driv­ers and cy­clists feel safer. Con­flicts between bikes and mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cles dropped by 61 per cent.

And busi­nesses?

There were rum­blings from busi­ness own­ers that the lanes would hurt them. But the re­port found that, if any­thing, the op­po­site is true.

A door-to-door sur­vey of busi­nesses and pedes­tri­ans found most busi­nesses ac­tu­ally re­ported an in­crease in the num­ber of cus­tomers.

Most vis­i­tors re­ported spend­ing more time and vis­it­ing more of­ten since the lanes were in­stalled. The city also looked at data from Moneris, a com­pany that pro­cesses debit and credit-card pay­ments. To­tal cus­tomer spend­ing in the bike-lane area has in­creased more than the area sur­round­ing the lanes and in the Dan­forth Av­enue con­trol area, ac­cord­ing to that data.

How much is all this go­ing to cost?

The city spent $500,000 in­stalling the lanes. Rip­ping them out would cost the city about $425,000, and there’s no money for that in the cur­rent bud­get.

What else should I know?

The re­port doesn’t say the lanes are per­fect. It rec­om­mends ad­di­tional tweaks in­clud­ing green area mark­ings in con­flict zones and/or in­ter­sec­tion mod­i­fi­ca­tions for right turns at Bedford Road and Christie Street.

Why does this mat­ter?

Bloor is one of the busiest cy­cling cor­ri­dors in the city, and the pi­lot’s suc­cess pro­vides a good case for build­ing more bike lanes and a model for how to make it hap­pen.

The re­port also says sep­a­rated bike lanes should be con­sid­ered for the full length of the Bloor/dan­forth cor­ri­dor, with more study.

Ed­uardo lima/metro

city trans­porta­tion staff are rec­om­mend­ing that coun­cil make the bloor bike lanes per­ma­nent.

ED­UARDO LIMA METRO

City trans­porta­tion sta have given the Bloor bike lanes the stamp of ap­proval and rec­om­mend they be­come per­ma­nent.

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