Cycling is all the rage in Toronto and City Council will potentially be hopping on the bandwagon at the June 7 council meeting with a 10-year bike plan that has cyclists soaring.
Cyclists can look forward to 525 km of bike pathways throughout the city! These pathways will involve new infrastructure at Kipling Ave., Yonge St., Bloor St., Danforth Ave., Jane St., Kingston Rd., Midland Ave., and Lake Shore Blvd. W. It also includes 40 km of trails that travels through the West Toronto Railpath and connects paths to the Don Valley Parkway and Humber Valley.
The types of cycling lanes will vary: 280 km of cycle tracks will be directly on fast and busy streets, 55 km of the bike lanes will be sidewalk-level trails on major streets, and the remaining 190 km will be along quieter streets. Within the network, 100 km of the cycling routes will be on major arterial roads and studies will be undertaken to evaluate the best streets for the bike lanes.
The Bloor St. bike lanes that were approved in the last city council meeting are one of many feasibility assessments that would be required for this new cycling plan to go forward. It will decide if the cycling network should be placed directly on Bloor St. or other major arterial roads in Toronto. The pilot project from Avenue Rd. and Shaw Rd, will assess whether the busy street can manage cycling traffic safely on the street and will use a mix of sidewalk bike lanes and routes directly on the street.
The 10-year cycling plan will cost about $153 million from 2016 to 2025, representing a $56.5 million increase in the Capital Plan for Transportation Services. The cycling network plan for 2016 was estimated at $13.5 million with an increase of $4 million in the budget.
Transportation Services has developed five funding concepts to support the program and they range from $8 million per year with 122 km of cycling routes being laid out on Toronto’s streets to $25 million per year with 247 km of track. As the annual investment increases, the amount of buffered bike lanes, which are cycling routes on lifted sidewalks, would increase as well. The last three scenarios have substantially more track built in the timeline and several more buffered bike lanes, but will cost more.
City council had a bike plan in 2011 for 495 km of bike lanes, but failed to meet this goal, only completing 495 km of the bike lanes by the allotted timeline. Cycling is fast becoming a higher priority in the city, but it remains to be seen if the new plan will be adopted. Bike lanes are essential because they help the city relieve congestion and keep people safe.
Hopefully, city council will work harder to meet cycling route goals within the 10 year plan if it goes forward and Toronto may just be put on the map for the best city for cycling.
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