March 14, 2016

So Close Yet So Far … March 2016 Bloor Update

Four weeks from today, the Bloor Street bike lane pilot project from Shaw Street to Avenue Road is expected to be debated at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC). The motion then goes to City Council in May with the pilot project installed this summer if approved. This represents the culmination of twenty five years of work done by city planners and cycling groups such as Bells on Bloor and Cycle Toronto. For my final Bloor update before this critical vote, let’s find out where we stand.
Bloor pilot project open house - March 9, 2016
Recent Open House

Thanks to considerable media attention leading up to the Bloor pilot project open house held on Wednesday, March 9 at Trinity St. Paul’s Church, almost 300 people attended the event to review the preferred design.

Fortunately, the preferred design placed bike lanes next to the curb to eliminate dooring and removes parking on one side. (Option C per the December consultation) I was also pleased to learn the city’s Cycling Unit included separation on both sides from Shaw to Bathurst, whereas the initial plan only included separation on one side. The Bathurst to Spadina section, however, only included separation on the parking side because of the narrow road width (12.2 metres) and city staff ruled out completely removing parking to mitigate business and driver concerns.
Proposed bike lane layout with participant comments
While I commend the efforts of Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati (manager of Cycling Infrastructure and Programs) and city staff, there are two suggestions which could improve the pilot project’s effectiveness.
  1. There is one section next to the Royal Ontario Museum (Bloor and Avenue) where the bike lane is placed in the door zone. That should be switched to eliminate dooring risk. When making the bike lanes permanent, maybe this section could be raised to sidewalk level to facilitate drop offs?
  2. Since bollards get damaged easily, city staff may want to consider using parking curbs which Ottawa used for the Laurier Street cycle track pilot project.
For a more detailed design discussion, check out the Bells On Bloor and Dandyhorse posts.

Support

Thanks in part to an e-mail blast from the David Suzuki Foundation in late January, the Bloor Loves Bikes pledge now has almost 8200 signatures. However, the goal is to get to 10,000 signatures before the April 11 vote, so be sure to sign and share the pledge at http://www.cycleto.ca/bloor-loves-bikes if you haven’t already. At least 80 businesses along Bloor showed support for the campaign by displaying Bloor Loves Bikes window stickers.

While cyclists and pedestrians were easily convinced about bike lanes on Bloor with over 90% and 70% of them (respectively) strongly supporting the idea, there remains work to be done to win over businesses and drivers. While both groups indicated more who strongly opposed the pilot project than those who strongly supported, support for bike lanes on Bloor still exceeds 40%. The presentation slides indicated 60% of motorists currently feel uncomfortable driving next to cyclists on Bloor.

Seeing how the Richmond-Adelaide pilot project tripled cycling volumes during the first year alone without negatively impacting motorists, a similar result on Bloor would surely win over these skeptics. Especially since the parking spaces removed can easily be accommodated with existing off street lots.
Media Endorsements

During this past weekend, both The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star issued editorials endorsing bike lanes on Bloor! An unthinkable idea as recently as last year, though there remain journalists like Mike Strobel of the Toronto Sun who continue to trash talk bike lanes and I won’t link his click bait here.

Per The Globe And Mail, Marcus Gee ridiculed drivers’ attachment to parking by stating “some motorists seem to consider it their Charter right to pull up right in front of their neighbourhood hardware store to buy a box of screws.” He lamented about streetcar traffic gets blocked due to drivers parallel parking and cyclists getting doored. He also indirectly cited TCAT’s study confirming 90% of customers in the Annex arrive by foot, bike, or transit.

The Toronto Star’s article commended how the Bloor pilot project balances the interests of cyclists, drivers, and businesses. It also encouraged using the pilot project to find out whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Final Steps

In addition to signing and sharing the Bloor Loves Bikes pledge, be sure to subscribe to Cycle Toronto’s updates (either via the pledge or by joining Cycle Toronto). They will issue action alerts to e-mail PWIC and your city councillor when cycling items come up, including the Bloor pilot project. If you join Cycle Toronto by March 31, you can be entered to win a bike!

Seal the deal!
Rob Z (e-mail)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rob,

    Keep up the good work supporting bikes in Toronto!

    ReplyDelete