October 11, 2017 8:59 am
Updated: October 12, 2017 10:53 am

City staff recommends Bloor Street bike lanes be made permanent

City staff in Toronto are recommending the Bloor Street bike lanes be a permanent fixture on the busy downtown thoroughfare. Marianne Dimain reports.

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A final city staff report is recommending the Bloor Street bike lanes to be a permanent fixture on the major downtown thoroughfare.

The separated bike lanes, a 2.4-kilometre stretch which run from Shaw Street to Avenue Road, were approved by city council in May 2016 and subsequently installed several months later for a one-year test phase.

The staff report on the pilot project provided further evidence of the impacts and benefits of the cycling corridor, including the reduction in collisions.

“While currently less than one year of road safety data is available “after” the installation of the bike lanes, preliminary indications show that collision and conflict (“near-miss” collisions) rates have reduced,” the report read.

Data released on the Bloor bike lanes as of June 2017 revealed that cycling volume increased by 49 per cent after the routes were installed.

“When only including cycling counts from within the pilot area, the increase amounts to 56 per cent with an average of 5,220 weekday cyclists, making Bloor Street the second highest bicycle facility by volume in the city,” the staff report said.

READ MORE: Installation begins on Bloor Street for bike lane pilot project

Although traffic volume from motor vehicles decreased by 16 per cent on Bloor Street, travel times increased between two to four minutes during the morning and afternoon rush hour.

The numbers were initially higher following the installation of the bike lanes but measures such as signal re-timing helped mitigate the delays.

A feedback survey conducted between Dec. 2016 and May 2017 also found that 75 per cent of people living near the bike lanes believe the cycling corridor provides a safer and more comfortable environment for cyclists.

VIDEO: Toronto bike lane pilot project on Bloor Street shows mixed results at halfway point

READ MORE: Some businesses not in favour of proposed Bloor Street bike lanes

Meanwhile, 75 per cent of cyclists surveyed said they would cycle more often because of the bike lanes.

The data also showed that Bloor Street is the second busiest bike route in the city — second only to Richmond and Adelaide, with Bloor having more than 5,000 cyclists using the route each day.

The bike lanes, however, have been a contentious issue for businesses in the area as some have argued the lane reductions take away parking spaces, delivery options and convenience for customers.

But city staff said data collected by Moneris Solutions Corporation to gauge customer spending habits proved otherwise.

“The Moneris data demonstrated that while average per-transaction size has marginally decreased in the pilot area, it is on-trend with other parts of the City,” the report stated.

“Total customer spending in the Bloor Street pilot area increased more than in the area surrounding the pilot and more than in the Danforth Avenue control area.”

LISTEN: Local business owner Barry Alper joins Kelly Cutrara to talk about the Bloor bike lanes

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Mayor John Tory said he was encouraged to see the impact the bike lanes had in the area and vows to support it.

“To me, all of these data points weighed together indicate that the Bloor bike lanes have had a positive impact,” Tory told reporters on Wednesday.

“So I will support the staff recommendation to keep the bike lanes with continued improvement to be made to safety, street design and practical improvements for local businesses.”

The final city report on the pilot project is scheduled to be presented at the Public Works Committee next week and will be up for approval by city council next month.

VIDEO: Cyclists say commercial vehicles are flouting the rules meant to improve safety on Bloor Street. 

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