Bike lanes on Bloor Street up for debate again

ABOVE: City Council clears the first hurdle towards a bike lane on Bloor. Peter Kim reports. 

TORONTO – City council is reconsidering bike lanes on Bloor Street.

The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee voted 5-1 Monday to reopen an environmental assessment into installing bike lanes along Bloor Street from Keele Street to Sherbourne Street.

Committee Chair Denzil Minnan-Wong was the lone dissenting vote.

This is the second time the city has investigated bike lanes on Bloor. Council voted in July 2012 to cancel the first assessment after council changed its “cycling priorities.”

But now, city officials have recommended an assessment of Bloor Street to be done at the same time as the one on Dupont Street, which already has bike lanes for several blocks between Dundas and Lansdowne.

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Advocacy group Cycle Toronto released a campaign recently urging city councillors to push for an environmental assessment on Danforth as well.

“What we’re lacking is a network to enable cyclists to access our streets in a safe manner,” Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto, said in an interview Monday. “We’ve got about 5,000 kilometres of roadway but only about just over a 100 kilometres of on-street bike lanes. So that’s only about 2 per cent of the roadway.”

Kolb argued enhancing the city’s bike lane network would not increase congestion, as many drivers believe, but instead decrease it by getting people out of their cars and freeing up space on roadways.

“We see it time and again: People are willing – they want to ride,” he said.

A 2009 survey of cyclists living in Toronto found up to 40 per cent of recreational cyclists would bike to work if the infrastructure were safer.

“When you see separated facilities, crash rates plummet and that is really a product of the fact that cyclists have their own space,” Kolb said.

The public works committee will review the proposal on Monday and possibly by council next month.

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– With files from Peter Kim

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