Ltr – Toronto lagging with piecemeal bike network

Toronto lagging with piecemeal bike network

Toronto Star, November 15, 2017

This article correctly suggests that the Bloor bike lanes are both a huge accomplishment and an inadequate step toward building a city-wide cycling network in Toronto.

How can it be right on both counts? Because over the past four decades, the Bloor bike lanes had become as much a practical as a symbolic goal.

When the 2.4-kilometre-long bike lanes were made permanent last week, it helped address the safety concerns of thousands of cyclists along one popular stretch of the road that connects to key cultural, shopping and educational venues, including the University of Toronto.

The success of the pilot on a narrow stretch of Bloor makes clear the feasibility of east- and west-ward connections to convert Bloor-Danforth into the long-awaited spine for the city’s cycling network.

“Bike lanes on Bloor” had become a rallying cry for the cycling community, and a symbol of Toronto’s shameful foot-dragging on road safety. As long as the passing years were measured in broken limbs and broken bodies, and city hall put bike lanes only where they were convenient to motorists, Toronto could not claim to take cycling safety seriously.

Opponents of the bike lane will continue to try to create divisions based on the problems of motorists and problems of the rest of humanity. Most of us have already moved on. The truth is that safe streets, affordable transport, and healthy lifestyles are as important in North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough as they are in the city core.

The Bloor bike lane is a victory for the local community and for Toronto — a victory that unlocks the potential to transform our city into one where road safety, a clean environment and healthy neighbourhoods are the expectation, not the exception.

Albert Koehl, Bells on Bloor, Toronto