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Province envisions a gigantic, inter-city cycling network

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 12, 2012

toronto don valleyA draft report from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation says expanding bicycle infrastructure and providing greater incentives for people to climb in the saddle will help curb traffic congestion and ease strain on overcrowded roads and highways in the GTA.

Released in the wake of a coroner's report into bike deaths, the report also pitches a province-wide cycling network in the image of Quebec's Route Verte that would connect smaller local systems, possibly with the addition of bike lanes to existing and new provincial highways, except, of course, 400-series roads.

A established, well-marketed regional cycling network could prove a big draw for tourists. Quebec's route brings in $30,000 per kilometre, almost $100 million each year. Apart from the cash, such a system has the potential to take cars off the road and reduce the burden on Ontario's health care.

There are also provisions, though vague, for funding of new lanes on or through MoT infrastructure.

A key part of the report avoids recommending changes to the Highway Traffic Act, possibly killing off the idea of a 1-metre passing rule and other new protections for cyclists. Instead, the province says it will "undertake its own research, review the approaches of other jurisdictions, listen to the comments and concerns of stakeholders, including the Coroner, and consider the recommendations of other government bodies."

The document stops short of providing specific detail on the proposed bicycle network and doesn't go into much detail in other areas. Fingers crossed for something more tangible when it's finally finished. Until then, you can have your say here.

What do you think of a province-wide cycling network? Is this a good way of promoting tourism and encouraging cycling? What would you like to see added to the report?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "First bicycle ride of the year" by andyscamera from the blogTO Flickr pool.



John / December 12, 2012 at 01:46 pm
Its an amazing idea, kinda 30 years behind, but still a positive move in the right direction.
Riding in the city is not that fun dealing with all the congestion, it would be great to have a non motorized network to use everyday. Lakeshore and The Don River system is ok, but there needs to be way more of that! Have you ever been to the Netherlands? Their bike system is far larger than their automobile system.
Alex / December 12, 2012 at 01:57 pm
You can use the waterfront trail, though it only goes through cities on the waterfront.

It sounds cool, but man would those be insanely long bike rides. Definitely more for leisure than to actually relieve any traffic congestion.
Paul D. / December 12, 2012 at 01:59 pm
I've always thought that developing the bike path in the Don Valley into something larger, broader, and more commuter-accessible would be great. Lighted paths, snow clearance, proper curbs and drainage, etc etc.
Steven / December 12, 2012 at 02:57 pm
Isn't Toronto bigger than Denmark?
the lemur replying to a comment from John / December 12, 2012 at 03:01 pm
And they managed to do that with the second-highest density of highways per square km in all of Europe, because they focused on connecting places. The Don trail could serve that purpose but it would need more access and exit points, similar to what Paul D said.
Paul / December 12, 2012 at 03:17 pm
I DRIVE to Quebec to use the "Green Highway" for touring trips.
How ironic is that. Ontario needs this last decade.
Brandon / December 12, 2012 at 05:02 pm
I'm sorry, cyclists will reduce traffic on "highways"?

What is the positive outcome of reduced fuel sales in Canada?
Alex replying to a comment from Brandon / December 12, 2012 at 06:53 pm
I like to think that reduced fuel sales will mean reduced fuel emissions. I for one am very pleased to think this could happen. But truly, it's time to move past non-renewable energy and find cleaner, greener prospects. You think that dead dinos and other prehistoric friends will just magically keep giving us their carbon goo to refine into gas/oil for our selfish luxuries? Unfortunately, at the rate we're going, we'll be the next fuel source for a planet without a human race.
Brandon replying to a comment from Alex / December 12, 2012 at 07:31 pm
Complete change of subject there. I was talking about the sales, as in the dollars and cents, that are heavily taxed and used to support the infrastructure in Canada. Where is that money going to come from?
the lemur replying to a comment from Steven / December 12, 2012 at 11:19 pm
Denmark is about six times the size of the GTA.
Ian replying to a comment from Brandon / December 12, 2012 at 11:50 pm
Infrastructure for bikes is cheaper to build and far cheaper to maintain. Though bikes aren't nearly as expensive as cars, they still cost a fair bit of money to purchase and continue to operate, so they do produce tax revenue in Sales taxes alone. This revenue would not be enough to support all the costs of building cycling infrastructure, but taxes collected from fuel sales also aren't enough to support all the costs of automobile infrastructure.

In reference to Alex's comment; Yes, riding a bicycle does not produce emissions, but manufacturing bikes and all of their components definitely does. The tires on your bike are, in fact, further refined petroleum products. The Aluminum/Steel that your frame is likely made from was mined and smelted and then formed, all using power derived from fossil fuels. All of these things were then shipped, most likely, from Taiwan.

You would be extremely hard pressed to find any means of transport other than walking naked after eating wild foods you gathered that did not have some sort of carbon footprint.

In closing, I probably just wasted my time responding to a troll and an idealist.
Antony / December 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm
The whole "draft policy" is 4 pages long. No funding, no policies, no concrete plan.

All we have is a lot of hot air. Not much worth discussing.
Aaron replying to a comment from Brandon / December 13, 2012 at 09:36 am

Something tells me that large companies like Loblaws and Tim Horton's won't be doing cross-country deliveries by bicycle. I willing to bet that the transportation industry *might* keep buying gasoline and paying an (albeit lower) gas tax.

Also, my parents won't be riding bikes to and from Mississauga, so there will still be a LOT of cars on the roads.

Sorry to everyone reading this. I just HAD to feed the trolls this time.
Salt / December 14, 2012 at 06:50 am
The Netherlands has a cycle network equal and (this is ideal for people worried about cycling alone in nature) parallel to their highways, roads, etc. When it's near the highways it's usually within sight (so a cyclist in distress could attract the attention of a motorist or vice-versa) but there's a large enough green-space buffer that the cyclist isn't inhaling crazy fumes all the way along. It's done wonders for the health of the population and congestion issues.

So, it's about time.
Rosie / December 20, 2012 at 11:23 am
Imagine being able to bike up Humber trail to the Kortwright Conservation Centre! It is totally within their mandate, and yet you currently have to bike up Islington or hwy 27. It's 30km from the lake; totally do-able for a day trip and a way for city folk to get into nature. Will it ever happen? Not in my lifetime.
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