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Toronto staff recommend keeping Bloor bike lane: 92% of cyclists, 57% of drivers and 51% of local businesses support the move

According to Census (2009), 1.7% of Torontonians bike to work, an increase from 2006 of 30%. This number likely increased since the last census report due to more bike-friendly lanes and an increase of urban density.

This signals Toronto is moving in the right direction with bicycle lanes — especially now with the density of residents increasing and the rising popularity of “vertical” living. People who live in highrises — condominium or rental — are more likely to bike to work. There’s a lot more work to do — as Toronto didn’t make the top 20 list of bike-friendly cities. (Montreal was the only Canadian city that made the list, at spot 20.)

 

A survey following the pilot test of bike lanes on Bloor Street, Toronto. The majority of drivers approve, and an overwhelming majority of bicyclists approve.

 

Around the world, urban planners recognize biking as important. In cities such as Tokyo and Seoul, with massive local populations, gridlock is minimal (proportionate to population) thanks to transit and bike lanes and smarter traffic control.

Public opinion: Bloor Pilot

Support for bike lanes on Bloor street appears to be solid, even amongst drivers who do not bicycle — at 57%. Amongst cyclists, of course, 92% support the lanes. Pedestrians also support the lanes at 78%. The only downside tends to be the loss of lanes and parking, but despite these, and the so-called “war with cyclists”, the majority of non-cycling drivers still support the lanes.

 

Cycling lanes in Toronto, separated from car traffic.

 

Shifting demographics: more lanes needed

The real call-to-action will be for more lanes. Toronto is a world-class city, consistently on most top ten lists for lifestyle — with the notable exception of cycling. Toronto did not make a single top 20 list for bike-friendly streets.

With the shift towards condominiums as a home-preference in Toronto — largely due to pricing and commute time issues (the top two reasons cited) — more bike lanes are needed. Not only will this discourage short car commuting amongst condo-dwellers — inspiring a move to bike commuting, or transit — it will make condominium density more viable.

Seoul, Korea, is a classic example of good urban planning. The greater Seoul area is home to 25 million people — nearly half of Korea’s population — most of them living in high-rises. It grew by 7 million people in two generations. The rapid urbanization led to some of the most innovative thinking in urban transportation, led by technology and transit improvements, a major focus on pedestrians, and also emphasis on two-wheeled transport — not just bikes, but mopeds as well.

Google and Amazon and rapid growth

Toronto continues to aspire to rapid growth, signalled by its recent partnership with Google in Sidewalk Toronto. [Condo.ca story here>>] Toronto is pitching for Amazon HQ2, which would bring 50,000 high-paying tech jobs. We already see an influx of 35,000 per year in new people — 108,766 if you include new births. By 2018, our core population will hit 7.1 million — not quite the size of Seoul, but certainly requiring some innovative urban planning.

Bike-friendly? Not yet

Toronto didn’t make the “Top 20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities” list from WIRED (nor any other top bike-friendly list), despite being consistently top 5 or 10 in the world for liveability. With bike-friendly planning and better transit, Toronto might be top 3 or top 1. Many of the cities on the top 20 list are European — where congestion of traffic is an issue. Most of the cities on the top 20 engaged in major planning to accommodate bikes, including Montreal (the sole Canadian city on the list, at #20). The top 20 most bike-friendly cities are:

  • Copenhagen (who is famous for the bike planning, unrivalled in the world)
  • Amsterdam
  • Utrecht
  • Strasbourg
  • Eindhoven
  • Malmo
  • Nantes
  • Bordeaux
  • Antwerp
  • Seville
  • Barcelona
  • Berlin
  • Ljubljana
  • Buenos Aires
  • Dublin
  • Vienna
  • Paris
  • Minneapolis
  • Hamburg
  • Montreal
Via-Bloor-Tridel
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