After 40 years, Toronto ready for bike lanes

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A growing chorus of planners, transit experts, cyclists and business owners in Toronto are dinging their bells in unison to demand bike lanes on Bloor Street. On Monday, the city’s public works and infrastructure committee will debate whether to install separated cycle tracks on Bloor between Shaw Street and Avenue Road as part of a one-year, $595,000 pilot project.

The plan goes to council May 2, and committee support could ensure it becomes a reality.

“It all just makes sense, but the most important reason is safety,” said Nancy Smith Lea, director of the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation.

Over 3,000 cyclists pedal along the busy Bloor Street stretch daily, “but the current situation is just not safe enough,” Smith Lea said, noting high rates of doorings and other collisions.

“We know from experience that bike lanes make it safer,” said Coun. Joe Cressy, one of the lanes’ biggest boosters.

Cressy’s council neighbour, Ward 20’s Mike Layton, believes adding bike lanes to Bloor could turn the street into a “dynamic” commercial and cultural hub.

“Cities all around us are moving towards pedestrian and cycling models on marquee streets. Bloor is that street in Toronto,” he said.

The plan would see 135 on-street parking spots removed from Bloor, meaning a divisive debate can be expected at both committee and council. However, Bells on Bloor co-founder Albert Koehl urged politicians to consider more than just how the bike lanes will impact drivers.

“What about the savings in our healthcare system from not having to treat cyclists who were hit on Bloor? What about the benefits of exercise and cleaner air?” he said. “These things need to be considered, not just whether it will take someone an extra 60 seconds to drive through the area.”

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