Bloor busi­nesses dis­agree on bike lanes

City coun­cil gears up to vote on per­ma­nency of pi­lot this fall

Midtown Post - - News - — Sa­man­tha Peksa

The out­come of the bike lanes pi­lot project on Bloor Street is just around the bend, as city of­fi­cials pre­pare to vote on their per­ma­nent in­stal­la­tion this fall. How­ever, the year-long pi­lot has been a bumpy ride, with res­i­dents and busi­nesses on both sides of the de­bate.

Ac­cord­ing to a study con­ducted by the City of Toronto in June, of the 140 lo­cal busi­nesses sur­veyed, opin­ions were split in op­po­si­tion and sup­port. For those against, lack of park­ing and delivery is­sues were preva­lent con­cerns.

Al­bert Koehl, an en­vi­ron­men­tal lawyer who sits on the board of the An­nex Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion and co-founded Bells on Bloor, said the Bloor bike lanes pi­lot had the sup­port of five lo­cal res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tions.

Koehl said Bells on Bloor and Cy­cle Toronto even set up a cam­paign called Tour de Bloor to en­cour­age more cy­clists to shop lo­cally. Hun­dreds of busi­nesses were asked to par­tic­i­pate, and 73 agreed.

Snakes & Lat­tes, a pop­u­lar board game café near Bathurst Street, de­cided to take part.

An­sis Kal­nins, brand man­ager for the mini chain, said he fully sup­ports bike lanes. Kal­nins, a cy­clist him­self, noted the café’s clien­tele skews to­ward those less likely to drive.

“Mak­ing our venue more ac­ces­si­ble to cy­clists in a safer way is go­ing to be a good thing for busi­ness,” said Kal­nins.

How­ever, Kal­nins did ad­mit the cur­rent con­fig­u­ra­tion could use some work as the busi­ness has had is­sues with load­ing and delivery.

Soo Yoo, owner of An­nex Mart, a con­ve­nience store a few doors down from Snakes & Lat­tes, chose not to par­tic­i­pate in the cam­paign.

“I dis­agree with the bike lane be­cause it’s been very hurt­ful to busi­ness. Peo­ple try to park their car, but they can’t find a spot any­more,” she said.

Yoo added many cus­tomers have com­plained about a lack park­ing, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing rush hour.

But ac­cord­ing to the June 2017 study, Bloor Street has lost less than 10 per cent of con­ve­nient cus­tomer park­ing as a re­sult of the pi­lot, amount­ing to 160 park­ing spa­ces. There are still more than 1,553 public spa­ces that re­main.

Koehl has also heard from lo­cal driv­ers who find the bike lanes in­con­ve­nient. But, he ar­gued, with sev­eral large de­vel­op­ments in the pipeline for the An­nex, the area can’t ac­com­mo­date more cars.

“Peo­ple are find­ing new ways of get­ting around, and we have to pro­mote those ways in­stead of set­ting up ob­sta­cles,” said Koehl. “If thou­sands of new res­i­dents ex­pect to park on Bloor, it’s not go­ing to hap­pen.”

Bike lane ad­vo­cate Al­bert Koehl cy­cling on Bloor Street, west of Spadina Av­enue

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