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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Battle for Bike Lanes in Toronto

CANADA - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford seems to have a love / hate relationship with cyclists in Toronto.

Believe me, the feeling is mutual.

Unlike Stephen Harper who sits comfortably in his PM office looking out his Ottawa windows at the peasants below now that he has his dreaded majority government and can do whatever he wants, Rob Ford cannot do whatever he pleases... he has to get everything past Toronto City Council first.

As part of his agenda Rob Ford wants to do the following...

#1. A Separated Bike Lane Network in Toronto's downtown core.

Note: Its confusing what this might actually be. One idea is that it will be separate bi-directional bike lanes (a two-way bike facility on one side of the street). One proposal is to convert the existing bicycle lanes on Bloor St. East, from Sherbourne Street to Broadview Avenue, into separated bike lanes in 2011 (1.6 km at a cost of approximately $50,000). This trial would then determine whether it could be used in other places across Toronto.

#2. Development of 100 km of off-street bike trails.

Note: 30 km of new trails already began construction in 2010 and will open in the summer of 2011.

#3. A Bikeway Trails Plan to continue developing bike trails in the future.

#4. Fixing gaps in the Bikeway Network. Ford wants on-street connections to be completed, provided they don't interfere too much with the flow of traffic.

#5. Bike Lanes to be Removed, at a cost of $210,000.

Note: Local councilors apparently want some bike lanes removed. They are: Pharmacy Avenue, between Denton Avenue and Alvinson Road, at a cost of approximately $120,000; and Birchmount Avenue, between Kingston Road and St. Clair Avenue East, at a cost of approximately $90,000.

#6. Modify Existing Bike Lanes.

Note: They want to modify the Dupont Street at the Lansdowne Avenue intersection in order to improve traffic flow and capacity at the intersection (cost: approximately $8,000).

#7. New Bike Lanes

A city report recommends new bike lanes at Dawes Road, from Danforth Avenue to Victoria Park Avenue, as part of the Dawes Road Revitalization Project.

So where is the money for all these new separated bike lanes (or scrapping of old lanes) going to come from?

Well Rob Ford has apparently hired scores of Toronto accountants to try and get the numbers to work.

Honestly, he'd be better off hiring IT staff or artists, not for their technical skills, but simply for their imaginative problem solving abilities. Not to diss the accountants, but sometimes certain jobs require thinking outside the box.

Maybe then we could find the necessary cash for such things and stop idiot drivers from parking in bicycle lanes. They're not parking spots!

In other news, want to suggest a new location for a bicycle stand / ring post? Go to toronto.ca/cycling/postandring/.

Also the Toronto Union Station Bicycle Station has now moved to the East side of York Street, just north of 25 York St. at Bremner Blvd. Staff hours are Monday - Friday: 8 AM - 4 PM. The Station will be unstaffed during the lunch hour.

Oh and by the way, the weather is wonderful outside people... get out of your stuffy apartments, your sunrooms, your offices, your basements, or wherever you happen to be and go cycling. There may not be that many beautiful days outside this summer so enjoy them while you can.

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