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How does Toronto's bike infrastructure stack up?

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / April 12, 2013

toronto bike infrastructureThe mere act of cycling in Toronto can seem like a crusade for freedom. We have a godzilla-esque mayor who erases existing infrastructure (read: Jarvis bike lanes) with what many cyclists would characterize as reckless abandon. In London, meanwhile, mayor Boris Johnson is happily skipping about building BIKE HIGHWAYS and talking about how said highways will act as a greening initiative and make for more community-oriented spaces. Hello, opposite-land.

And that's not the only city putting Toronto to shame. Everyone seems to have vague notions of how cruddy our cycling infrastructure is, so we decided to see how it actually stacks up in cities of (relatively) comparable size. And for a city of 2,791,140, we're not doing very well failing hard seriously shitting the bed. Other cities are actively trying to promote cycling. The same cannot be said for us. Behold, the numbers:

What's going on in London

Mayor Boris Johnson has decided to commit $1.5 billion to improve the city's bike infrastructure, including a 24-kilometre bike "superhighway," separated from traffic and connecting the west and east ends of the city. The highway is expected to be the longest of its kind in Europe.

Chicago

Toronto may have surpassed Chicago as the fourth-largest city in North America, but that city is still kicking our ass on the cycling front. Their Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 was developed by listening to what the people wanted, a virtually unheard of political tactic. It aims to install a 1038 km network of biking facilities, with the goal of "providing a bicycle accommodation within a half-mile of every Chicagoan." The first phase of the project, to be completed by 2015, already has a total of $40 million allocated to it. Thirty-two million of that has been provided by the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, and $8 million stems from local funds. Currently, the city has more than 273.6 km of on-street protected bike lanes.

New York City

New York City is the king of bike lanes. The New York Times calls the city a "cycling haven," though there is concern that the bike-love may dissipate with the crowning of a new mayor. In any case, under Bloomberg, the city has acquired no fewer than 410 km of bike lanes, and according to a poll by the Times, a full 66 per cent of New Yorkers think bike lanes are "a good idea."

Seattle

It probably seems obvious that Seattle would be a good city for cycling. And when citizens don't feel it's going their way, they get intense about it by creating their own protected bike lanes, as we've also seen the Urban Repair Squad do here.

But when cyclists aren't pushing the situation to action, the city seems to be making a reasonable attempt to enhance Seattle's cycling infrastructure on its own. In 2007, the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan was implemented. Since then, 207 km of on-street cycling infrastructure has been created, and the government has the two-fold goal of tripling the amount of cycling in the city by 2017, and reducing the rate of bicycle collisions by one third in the same time frame. At the plan's inception, it was expected to cost about $240 million in total.

(Seattle's population, for the record, stands at about 620,778).

Montreal

Montreal came in at number eight on the Copenhagenize Index. According to the index, "The city has had bicycle infrastructure since the mid-80s, which should embarrass other cities on that continent." And according to rock-solid expert source AskMen.com, Montreal is the fifth most bike-friendly city in the world. In terms of financing, Montreal isn't quite stacking up to its American counterparts. But it did spend $10 million last year on development projects and bike path revitalization.

In total, the city has about 107 km of on-street bike lanes, which makes for 27 km per 100,000 people.

Vancouver

Vancouver makes use of separated bike lanes, with proposals for more coming in all the time.

In 2010, Vancouver city council voted unanimously to spend $25 million over two years to build 55 km of new bike lanes over ten years. And bike trips in the city have apparently gone up by "150 per cent" over the past 15 years, and about 12 in 100 ventures in fitness-happy Vancouver are made via bike. Vancouver has 60 km of on-street bike lanes, which makes for 26 km per 100,000 people.

So, what's the deal in Toronto?

The topic of bike lanes has always been a controversial one in the fair land of Hogtown. Much mud-slinging has been done on the issue, with motorists becoming more and more claustrophobic in the face of ever-increasing traffic, and cyclists becoming more and more terrified of being killed (or at the very least doored) each time they hop on their two-wheeled steeds.

Though we do have separated lanes on Sherbourne and some others in the works, we don't have much to brag about. Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works committee, failed to respond to repeated requests for comment over the span of a couple of weeks. And it's safe to say none of us will live to see the day Mayor Rob Ford eschews the motor vehicle in favour of traversing merrily around on a bicycle. The undeniable truth is that we're backpedaling when it comes to cycling infrastructure.

By the end of 2011, the city had -3.2 km fewer bike lanes than it started with due to removals on Pharmacy and Birchmount. And the same thing happened in 2012, after the removal of the Jarvis lanes.

And now? The city can expect to see 14 km of bike lanes upgraded or added by 2014. And 2001's Bike Plan promised 495 km of bike lanes to be added by 2012. What did we get? 23 per cent of that promise, in the form of 112.9 km. That's 11 km per 100,000 people.

Jared Kolb wrote on Cycle Toronto's site last year that, "City Council continues to invest in a legacy of inaction."

"There are fewer kilometres of bike lanes today than there were in 2009," he told me last week over the phone. (In 2009, there were 91).

He says the 14 km that have been added are a start, and so are the proposals for lanes on Richmond and Adelaide. But we're nowhere near where we need to be, he said. Both Montreal and Vancouver have far more bike lanes per capita than Toronto, despite the considerable size-difference in our favour.

"As a city, we need to renew the conversation about how we do cycling on the street. We don't have safe infrastructure connecting to the core," Kolb says. He thinks it's possible, but would just require a reallocation of precious budget dollars.

Jennifer Keesmaat does say she wants cycling to become a viable means of transportation by giving drivers and bikers the space they need, and the latest figures show roughly a third of all downtown travel is made on foot or by bike. But will anything like transportation harmony ever come to fruition?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Photo by Jared Krause

Discussion

91 Comments

McRib / April 12, 2013 at 10:58 am
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poorly
Greg / April 12, 2013 at 11:11 am
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Nice to see a well-researched article on this. I hear so much about how badly Toronto is doing on this front, but there's rarely any context. Now that there is, I fear it's even worse than I thought. Why do our leaders insist on making bike lanes a polarizing issue. Look at these other cities? They're not populated by tree-huggers, are they? It's really not a stretch to say that more bike infrastructure benefits everybody.
Cathy / April 12, 2013 at 11:16 am
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I have visited many of these cities and Toronto doesn't stack up at all. In fact, cycling in this city is dangerous (with SUVs racing by just a few inches from your handlebars.) Cyclists cannot ride on the sidewalk, but the alternative is risking your life when angry car drivers try to show their superiority. We would not tolerate a system where pedestrians would have to walk just a few inches beside speeding cars, so why should a pedestrian (on a bike) be put at risk? Are we second class?

Other cities (like Amsterdam) have shown that cycling is a green, healthy and superior way to commute, but City Hall continues to pay lip service to it. The new skinny bikes lanes on Sherbourne are a joke and do not protect cyclists from cars. And Toronto is world class city?
Poopdawg / April 12, 2013 at 11:18 am
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The great cycling debate in Toronto:

"I Riding my bike because it is the fastest way to go a few blocks."

"Get off the road. Roads are for cars and there's no room for your bikes. Get on the sidewalk."

"Okay."

"Get off the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for people and there's no room for your bikes."

"Okay, how about network small dedicated lanes so I don't have to ride on your road or sidewalk?"

"No! That costs money. Money we need for roads and sidewalks."

"Okay, I guess I'll just have to make do because riding a bike is the most convenient way of getting around this city and I'm not just going to give that up."

"Get off the road. Roads are for cars and there's no room for your bikes. Get on the sidewalk."

"Okay."

"Get off the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for people and there's no room for your bikes."

"How about network small dedicated lanes so I don't have to ride on your road or sidewalk?"

"No! That costs money. Money we need for roads and sidewalks."

"Okay, I guess I'll just have to make do because riding a bike is the most convenient way of getting around this city and I'm not just going to give that up."

"Get off the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for people and there's no room for your bikes."

"How about network small dedicated lanes so I don't have to ride on your road or sidewalk?"

"No! That costs money. Money we need for roads and sidewalks."

Times infinity.
Me replying to a comment from Poopdawg / April 12, 2013 at 11:27 am
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tl;dr
the lemur replying to a comment from Poopdawg / April 12, 2013 at 11:27 am
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See also:

'Go ride in the park if you want to ride'.

'Okay'.
*rides through park to get somewhere else*

'Get out of the park! There's a street over there you can ride on!'
Carla / April 12, 2013 at 11:31 am
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the best example of how little city hall cares about cyclists are the bike lanes that suddenly end and put you into traffic. so my life can only be safe part of my commute? maybe i should just wear my helmet half the ride. city hall, you don't stack up at all. please vote for the councilors that are doing something to get polluting cars off the road ...so we can all breathe!
Soren / April 12, 2013 at 11:45 am
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Sadly Toronto politicians use cycling infrastructure as a wedge issue instead of a means to ease gridlock and improve the safety and quality of life of citizens.

p.s. we're all taxpayers, so can we go back to calling everyone citizens
Theo / April 12, 2013 at 11:48 am
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Nice article but:

the city had -3.2 km fewer bike lanes than it started with

is actually a double negative
Sean Clarke replying to a comment from Carla / April 12, 2013 at 11:51 am
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Umm. You should wear your helmet the entire ride. Clearly, it's tough out there.
Chris / April 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm
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Quite frankly, until we stop viewing transport as an either/or proposition, it won't improve. It's not cars or transit. Its not cars or bikes. Its all of them. Quite frankly, "car-only" folks like Ford and his ilk are the worst of the bunch because they complain the loudest and they're the ones that act as if cars have sole entitlement to our roadways. Guess what? We all pay taxes to pay for those roads, so we all have a say in what to do with them. Until the "cars only" crowd wakes up to the fact that encouraging other modes of transportation, through sensible infrastructure investment is actually in THEIR best interest, it's only going to get worse.

I get that all that drivers are seeing are roads that are more and more congested, so the idea of giving up precious road space to bikes seems ludicrous, especially since these kinds of improvements won't have an immediate effect on your daily commute. However, as you look around you, it should be crystal clear that we're seeing and feeling the impact years of inertia, both on transit and bike infrastructure.

All we've built in the last 20 years are roads and highways, and what's happened? Traffic's WORSE than ever. Those new highways simply encouraged people to live further and further away from where they work, shop and play. The result? All those new lanes and roadways are now clogged, and it just takes longer and longer to get anywhere by car. Any civil engineer or urban planner will tell you that the last thing you want to do to deal with increased congestion is build more roads for cars. The key to truly dealing with congestion is to get cars off the roads by encouraging and facilitating other means of transport. of course cars will never go away completely, but if it can be more feasible to take certain trips by bike or transit, instead of doing everyting by car, how is that a bad thing?

Time for new thinking on this.
Robin replying to a comment from Chris / April 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm
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x 100
Yes I Am Mad / April 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm
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It's vote-hungry politicians creating an 'Us vs. Them' mentality that is fucking over the city in so many ways.
Todd / April 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm
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"City Council continues to invest in a legacy of inaction."

That's it, right there. Applies to everything that we, as citizens, know we need.
Simon / April 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm
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What about doing something world-leading for once, like starting a factory that makes modular steel above-ground bike skyways. You create jobs, you give yourself a discount on your transit infrastructure because you're the supplier, and you create something that is so cool and inventive and awesome that people actually want to come from other world-class cities to use your transit system. Or better yet other cities like your idea and start buying your modular bike sky-ways.
Paulo / April 12, 2013 at 12:29 pm
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Citing askmen.com as a source for any sort of data hardly contributes to the credibility of any article... Was the 'rock-solid expert source' remark supposed to make it sound sarcastic/witty? It is a little confusing.
Sarah Ratchford replying to a comment from Paulo / April 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm
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Yes, sarcasm it is. I know it can be a difficult language. Let it be known that I do not turn to AskMen for solid stats.
Phil / April 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm
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Realistically, in parts of the city where cycling is popular, we have run out of space to put bike lanes on. Both sides of the debate will have to, eventually, accept that what we are in fact talking about is reducing space for automobiles because:

- bikes take up less space, reduce congestion, and free up space for pedestrians and public transportation
- large numbers of automobiles moving very quickly actually have a negative effect on the ambience of a city and create a vicious cycle, evident in the suburbs, where people have to travel greater and greater distances to get to places where they actually want to be. I.e. not sitting on a patio overlooking a boulevard like Dufferin St. or a mall parking lot, but either in a place like Queen West or else further and further out to places like Milton.
Todd replying to a comment from Cathy / April 12, 2013 at 12:37 pm
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It's not a world class city. It's artificially included in these silly rankings because it's the largest city in a developed country. If Montreal had more people and thus was the economic engine, it would be considered a world class city. Toronto is lacking a number of things that would propel it to genuine world class city status.
Dale / April 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm
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The problem with Toronto is that bikes have some how become linked to the left. As if deciding to ride a bike was a political action.
giuliano replying to a comment from Dale / April 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm
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you make an interesting point here. While not a political act per se, riding (by choice, by default or by necessity) is seen as an alternative to using a car. I use both (though not in Toronto) but for some reason it seems that here a sizeable, and vocal, section of the drivers feels that roads should be for cars only. I don't think we need to study the demographics too deeply to link that kind of thought to certain political leanings.
Same goes for riders. And while there is nothing wrong about belonging to different political spheres, these feelings are exacerbated on the road.
I think that with a bit of compromise on both ends (yes, there are obnoxious riders, and as a law-abiding cyclist I really wish they didn't make the situation worse for all of us) we could move Toronto forward. Geographically, it's an ideal city for cycling. Obviously we'd need another mayor though, and a change of mentality about the sense of entitlement that certain drivers have on the road.
Good job on keeping the conversation civil. The previous comments boards about the same issue had quickly become toxic.
Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 12:50 pm
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The same peanut gallery that has been cheering on the relentless campaign from the Toronto Star and friends for the last three months to slander, libel and pursue trumped up legal challenges against a democratically elected mayor now is against partisan politics. I think you have some bridges to build people and I'm not talking about infrastructure...
BJ LaRue replying to a comment from Theo / April 12, 2013 at 01:01 pm
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Who are you Edward James Olmos?

"A negaTEEV, times a negaTEEV, is a posaTEEV! Orale, Johnny?"
W. K. Lis / April 12, 2013 at 01:07 pm
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Rob Ford wants to see bicycles restricted to bike paths in river valleys, out of sight as he drives. So how about putting in bike paths along the Garrison Creek, Russell Creek, or Taddle Creek for a start?

Might be a problem, for example, Taddle Creek runs through the Eaton Centre. Most of those creeks are now buried or converted to sewers. So why not put them along the neighbouring streets, like Queen Street, Young Street, Avenue Road, etc.? A little bit of a problem.
W. K. Lis / April 12, 2013 at 01:16 pm
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Rob Ford's beloved Chicago built a $3 million bike station. Yet, he objects to having to spend $2 million on a bike station, under City Hall, that would have more storage for bicycles. Chicago's bike station has showers, bike repairs, and lockers. Why not Toronto?

When I saw the Mount Dennis Mobility Hub Update and Station Design Review Presentation for the Crosstown LRT, it mentioned that the Kodak Building No. 9 will be "re-purposed" and that the station will have "enhanced pedestrian/cyclist connectivity". What about using one or two floors of the Kodak building for another bicycle station (with showers, repair shop, lockers, etc.), similar to the City Hall bike station?

In fact, why not put in a bike station at the east end, at Kennedy Station? Why not get York Region to put in a bike station at one of the Spadina extension stations?
Lew Ashby replying to a comment from Chris / April 12, 2013 at 01:28 pm
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Please. It's simply idiotic to shut down a lane that can be fully utilized by cars for 12 months of the year so it can be exclusively used by sparse bicycle traffic 8 months per year, and almost none for the remaining four (with the exception of the handful of the usual suspect that hang out on this site whining about how bad they have it, of course.)
Couch Potato replying to a comment from Lew Ashby / April 12, 2013 at 01:42 pm
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i agree people that whine for bikes in this city are a very tiny group, but without this site no one would hear them whine. no one else besides blogto cares.
McRib replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 01:47 pm
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actually, I think most of us are against partisan politics, but when you have one of the most partisan politicians in the country as the Mayor of your city, you need to push back a little bit.

This really should not be a partisan or political issue. This should be an issue about the well being of this city and its citizens.

Just look at the list above. London, New York, Chicago. Three cities that were absolutely built on capitalism and 2 of them are up there as arguably the most powerful cities on earth. They are world cities, not left-leaning utopias like Copenhagen. Yet there they are, trying to change, trying to learn from their mistakes and help make things better for the people who live there.

Our mayor fights against change. Change is bad in his eyes. He still thinks he's in highschool, as evidenced by hiring his ex football coach. This isn't about partisanship, its about getting the right people for the job. He is not the right man for the job. And neither was Miller, who while big on ideas failed badly on the bicycle file.

Breathe Much replying to a comment from Lew Ashby / April 12, 2013 at 01:55 pm
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Please realize that the reason bicycle traffic is "sparse" is because OUR roadways and politicians cater to selfish people who want to drive solo downtown in their polluting automobiles 12 months of the year. If a safe bicycling network existed, more people would cycle year round. Build it and they will come.

I love how car drivers (who are against cycling) think that they don't have to breath their own toxic emissions while they sit in grid lock. Do you know what is coming out of your tailpipe every time you drive when you could walk/bike/ttc? You should support cycling and transit if only for YOUR OWN HEALTH. We all have to breathe!
Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 02:00 pm
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I can accept that this should not be a partisan issue and I can accept that we should use the cities listed as models for our own bike infrastructure. What I cannot accept is that the fault for this lies at the feet of Ford (or Miller) for that matter. There is a group of cyclists in this city that is so aggressive about their "rights" that they are actively working against the development of improved infrastructure. I could give examples but suffice it to say that they are not happy unless actively interfering with the automobiles / pedestrians they share the roads and sidewalks with. I would also add that I believe that "left" leaning councilors have the numbers at city hall these days so if they really believe this is what the citizens of T.O. want Ford is truly irrelevant...
McRib replying to a comment from Lew Ashby / April 12, 2013 at 02:01 pm
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and there in a nutshell is why we are at a complete standstill. Car drivers simply refuse to give an inch.

"idiotic" to take away space form cars.
"sparce" bicycle traffic for 8 months of the year.
"whiners" whining.

The only people whining seem to be those who will not give an inch to another form of transportation, no matter what. No more roads are going to be built in the core of this city, so the only way to alleviate congestion is to encourage other forms of transportation besides the car.

Its going to happen one day, but not until we have the right leadership in charge, and a population of citizens without their heads up their asses.

embrace change, its the only constant.
mezimeen / April 12, 2013 at 02:04 pm
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I wouldn't be surprised is Pyongyang North Korea had a better infrastructure...it's a crumbling infrastructure sure but it's still better then Toronto.
McRib replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 02:08 pm
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come on, give us examples of this group of cyclists "actively working against the development of improved infrastructure".

Also show how they are "only happy when they are pissing off motorists and pedestrians".

because it sounds like bullshit to me.
McRib replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 02:12 pm
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Oh but i definitely do agree it cannot be laid just at the feet of the mayor. All councillors, and indeed much of the public, are also to blame.

Its a mentality shift that needs to happen, and for some reason Toronto just isn't there yet.
Anthony / April 12, 2013 at 02:12 pm
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The fact is Bikes are part of the long term plan for Toronto. Metrolinx, which has the backing of the true powers that be, has mandated it as part of their long term transportation plan along with greater public transportation.
The griping and groaning by our current "patsy" in the Mayors office is just designed to get the meathead vote.
Unless we start tearing down buildings and make 4 lane streets throughout the downtown core we will continue to have traffic congestion regardless of whether bikes are on the road, on a path or in the basement collecting cobwebs.
The city is increasingly becoming developed to the brink of overpopulation, lining the lakes with tall buildings blocking out lake effect winds and creating a vacuum of car fumes.
it is inevitable that personal automobiles are not going to be part of the big picture. So if you drive, face the reality that if you don't move or retire over the next 15 years you will probably be finding an alternate means of transportation.
Personally I would suggest a bike, it is great exercise and it requires a very small footprint (both carbon and space).
mike replying to a comment from Todd / April 12, 2013 at 02:25 pm
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"World Class" is an irrelevant, subjective buzz word from the 1990s. get over it. there are a lot of people here, thus its important. end of story. we need to do the best we can for ourselves, for the people who live here, and not some potentially picky world travelers.
Captain Obvious replying to a comment from McRib / April 12, 2013 at 02:33 pm
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1. Stopped at a traffic light on Bloor that has a straight through and right turn lane. I am trying to turn right. There are two cyclists stopped in front of me each stopped dead in the centre of each of the respective lanes. When I honk to alert the cyclist that I am turning they both turn slowly to look at me and then look back at each other to continue to their conversation. When I roll down my window to ask the rider blocking the turning lane to move they yell back at me saying that there is no law requiring them to move. The light turns green and they both proceed straight down Bloor. They inconvenienced me because they could.
2. Driving home from brunch with my family on a Sunday a cyclist is riding two full metres away from the side of the road very slowly and do to a steady stream of traffic in the opposite direction I am not able to immediately pass her, when I finally do pass her it seems "I" was to close to her because when she catches up to me at the next stop sign she unleashes a string of profanity at me in front of my young daughter. When I reply that she was really far from the curb she replies that the Toronto cyclist handbook says she can be that far out and she has a device that measures the distance.
I ride my bike to work every day in the summer but riders like these just breed ill will and hostility toward all other cyclists...
Adam / April 12, 2013 at 02:38 pm
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I've lived in both Toronto and London, visited Montreal and Vancouver on a regular basis and visited many other European and American cities multiple times before. Where they're all moving forward we're moving backward. Our sad excuse of a mayor is doing his very best to drag us back to the 50's - and it's working. Unfortunately the only way for this to change is for a complete overhaul of city council.
Nancy replying to a comment from mike / April 12, 2013 at 02:47 pm
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agreed. "we need to do the best we can for ourselves" and that means taking care basic health needs like the air quality in TO (which keeps going down.) this is not about the left or right, it is about doing the right thing for society. we can no longer tolerate greedy politicians who just want to get re-elected by catering to greedy rich people who just want to drive their SUVs downtown everyday. greener transportation solutions (like cycling) are what we must give to the next generation. please stop the greed and selfish attitude of Toronto's elite ...especially if you have children
Parker replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 02:54 pm
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You were probably too close. Dude in a 4000 lb vehicle vs. woman on a 40 lb bike...get over yourself and stop crowding. Cyclists are entitled to the whole lane but seldom use it.
Paula replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 02:56 pm
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totally know what you mean. the other day i was in a shopping mall and this person purposely bumped into me. now i am really hostile towards all shoppers.
Anthony replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 03:03 pm
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I'm guessing a motorist has never done anything obnoxious to you in the past.
I get your meaning though, as a cyclist I see it a lot. Cyclists pulling up beside someone trying to make a right turn then yelling at them cause they didn't see them, cyclist hogging lanes out of spite, some presuming themselves beyond the highway traffic act.
But it cuts both ways. Last year I had a car drive me into the curb while lined up in traffic because it irked him that I was rolling past him on the right hand side. Then after literally pushing me over the curb, he got out of his car and started to call me out to fight. ( I'm over 50, about 5'2" and 120 lbs, a real act of bravery on his part.)
So there are a-holes using all forms of transportation. However, Most cyclists like most drivers, just want to reach their destination unscathed. I, as a cyclist, am no more responsible or accountable for the actions of a few selfish obnoxious cyclist as the average driver is accountable for the few selfish and obnoxious drivers out there.
The anger between cyclists and drivers is malignant in the city right now. And that anger will unfortunately lead to another tragedy.
Captain Obvious replying to a comment from Anthony / April 12, 2013 at 03:16 pm
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I've seen a-hole car drivers on my bike for sure, I've been crowded into the curb several times, been shown the door once, yelled at a couple times, but once I started riding more defensively most of my problems disappeared. Based on my personal experience cyclists are far more intentionally aggressive but Paula has a point I could just have an unusual number of jerks in my life / hood...
steve replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 03:42 pm
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You demonstrated the partisan politics you are complaining about. Only those that have views like yours see it this way.

As for your comments on cyclist I would conclude you cause as much if not more problems as those you complain about. Both as a cyclist and a driver.

Your the problem not the solution.
Chris replying to a comment from Lew Ashby / April 12, 2013 at 03:46 pm
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C'mon man, you're being paranoid. It's exactly that kind of attitude that is part of the problem, why nothing is getting done. No one is suggesting slapping bike lanes on every street - clearly bike lanes make more sense on some roads than others. But the attitude in this administration seems to be that any bike lane anywhere is somehow harmful to car drivers and for the reasons that I and many others on this board has pointed out, that view is highly self-defeating. Look around you - you really think the status quo is working?

Read my original post again - I'm simply advocating for a point of view that recognizes that cars are not the only means of transport in this city. Having feasible alternatives (which means investing in sensible infrastructure) is good for everyone, including drivers.

the lemur replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 03:59 pm
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#1 - Was this a 'right turn only' lane, and if so, where on Bloor?
the lemur replying to a comment from Lew Ashby / April 12, 2013 at 04:01 pm
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'shut down a lane that can be fully utilized by cars'

Most bike lanes in place aren't actually wide enough that they would accommodate a car or make existing 'car' lanes much wider.

As for being 'fully used by cars', there are a lot of streets and roads around this city that see very little traffic most of the time - should those be eliminated as well?
Captain Obvious replying to a comment from the lemur / April 12, 2013 at 04:16 pm
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Not right turn only, Brock & Bloor. It was more about the fact that the rider obviously knew he could move but he and his buddies thought it was amusing to make me wait. His attitude was much more pleasant when he was pouring my latte at Starbucks about a week later (not kidding).
the lemur replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 04:49 pm
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Got it. My approach to that on a bike would be to either stay right at the curb or far enough to the left in the lane to let a right-turning car pass behind, but unfortunately there's a fair bit of what you experienced going on.
Paula replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 12, 2013 at 05:11 pm
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totally feel for you. the other day, i was running to get into an elevator and some jerk purposely let the door shut. he ended up being a courier that delivered a package to my office (not kidding)... couriers like these just breed ill will and hostility toward all other couriers... don't get me started on bike couriers. they are even worse because they don't even hold the elevator for you and then they block the right lanes with their bikes!!!... causing ill will and hostility toward all other bike couriers who use elevators
Aus Mike / April 12, 2013 at 07:34 pm
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Ohhhh and we haven't even BEGUN comparing cities in mainland Europe and Australia...
lol / April 12, 2013 at 08:12 pm
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If you Live at King and Bathurst or Dufferin, and have to get to bloor and younge by bike, you countlessly put yourself in danger trying to not get hit by a person opening their door, streetcar tracks, or a streetcar itself, sad
Toby Buckets / April 12, 2013 at 09:42 pm
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Wow! We can't make up our minds about anything. It's almost as if four completely different cities with different cultures were artificially amalgamated into one.
Lew Ashby replying to a comment from the lemur / April 12, 2013 at 10:16 pm
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If there is room for a bike lane without removing a lane that can be fully utilized by motorvehicles 12 months/year, then we should create one there. The issue is when you take away a lane (like on Jarvis or worse, when they took 2 out of 4 lanes on Dundas St. East away and turned one of the only good routes into the city into a traffic jam.) That is just stupid.

And if there are plenty of streets around the city that see very little traffic, ride there in safety to your heart's content. You only weaken your cause by lobbying for something irrational like turning a lane that moves many thousands of people per day into one that moves a few hundred.
ttraveller / April 12, 2013 at 10:27 pm
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I am a long time Toronto bike rider and I've ridden world-wide. I'm basically ashamed of our bike culture but I totally understand the hate-on for bike riders in this town. We have a dismal infrastructure because that is what we deserve.
To give you an example of "our kind of people." Here's my experience a couple weeks ago at one of our major (2 outlets) bike shops on Bloor. I had booked an appointment to bring in my bike for a tuneup. I arrived at 10.50am and the store opens at 11am. It's freezing cold and snowing. Walk up to the door window and 2 staff members are clearly visible inside so I gently knock on the door to get their attention. They both stand there and look at me as if I don't exist.

Then another staff person rides up and they open the door to let her in no problem. I explain that I have an appointment and maybe I could come in and wait. The staff looks straight at me and slams the door in my face. Unfortunately I was halfway in and had to jump back for fear of getting hit. By this time I'm reasonably frustrated and I ask for his name (just in case the owner has any interest.) He slams the door and the other staff gives me the finger. If you think this is an exception for Toronto you'd be wrong.
Cars Baaaah / April 12, 2013 at 10:34 pm
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Enough with the cars. End the war on the city.
iSkyscraper / April 12, 2013 at 11:28 pm
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Not to depress you further, but the article downplayed how pro-bike New York really is. Get some kleenex ready:

1) It's not just bike lanes. NY has three classes of lanes here, and lots of them. Sherbourne wouldn't even count as a real Class I bike lane in New York because it is not truly separated (cars can get over the curb). Plus, it's ugly as hell. New York often paints its Class I bike lanes and decorates them with landscaping too.
http://www.streetfilms.org/bike-lanes-in-the-big-apple/

2) New York has a program that makes it easy for anyone to request a publicly funded bike rack for the sidewalk in front of their business or building. Just a click away:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/bikerack.shtml

3) Even more impressive, BIDs and businesses can now request a bike corral, where the Dept of Transportation converts a parking space into multiple bike racks. Yes, that's right, the agency that runs traffic and cars will actually take free car parking and convert it to free bike parking.
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/bike-corrals.shtml

4) If you own an office building, you must now by law let your tenants bring bikes into the building if they file a formal request:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/bikesinbuildings.shtml

5) All existing commercial parking garages must now provide indoor bike parking spaces at a ratio of 1 bike space for every 10 car spaces, up to 20 bike spaces. They can charge for the bike spaces just like they charge for car spaces but they have to build the racks.
http://tinyurl.com/bppjrem

6) To set a good example, the City of New York provides FREE indoor bike parking for any city employee who wants to use it at three garages near the main city offices.
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/27/bike-dont-drive-city-tells-its-workers/

7) When New York did their street furniture contract, they included bike shelters along with bus shelters and garbage cans. These pop up in busy places.
http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/nyc-bicycle-parking-bike-shelter-street-cycling-union-square.jpg

8) Perhaps most significantly, the city changed the zoning laws to require bike parking for all new development. If you build a new condo, say, you have to provide one indoor bike space for every two condo units. If you build a new office building, it's one space for every 7,500 SF or 3% of workers. For retail or manufacturing, one indoor space per 10,000 SF for the workers to park.
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/bicycle_parking/presentation.shtml

9) The city has worked with its city and state parks departments to keep adding segments of recreational bike paths through the waterfront parks. The Greenway now nearly circles Manhattan and grows every year.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Waterfront_Greenway

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Rob Ford's head would absolutely fucking explode if any of this was ever done in Toronto. And it will be done, one day, if people (cyclist or not) will wake up as to how backwards Toronto has become under the Child Mayor and throw him out.

iSkyscraper / April 12, 2013 at 11:50 pm
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Oh, and I nearly forgot...

10) New York's version of Bixi (delayed by software and then Sandy) finally launches next month. It will be 10,000 bikes to Toronto's 1,000, cost less ($95), and the free rides will be 45 min and not 30.
http://citibikenyc.com/


Sad, really, when you consider how much New York used to look up to Toronto:
http://tinyurl.com/br8nquz
Grid / April 13, 2013 at 04:10 am
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Unfortunately London is not all it's cracked up to be:
http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/national-embarrassment-tfl-builds-cycle.html
Please go back... replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / April 13, 2013 at 08:31 am
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Iskyscraper I am really tired of your everything's better in NYC shtick. Please go back you obviously hate Toronto.
Captain O has got to GO replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm
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Capt Obvious built a bridge from his hand to his penis YEARS ago.

And has been using that link CONSTANTLY ever since.
Toby go back to FordCokeLand replying to a comment from Toby Buckets / April 13, 2013 at 12:08 pm
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Yeah, agreed! We somehow got Etobicoke stuck to the bottom of our shoe and have no idea how to scrape it off.
GRAARG / April 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm
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This is a poorly written and researched article - it's clear the writer has never really ridden in those cities not bothered to reach out to those who do.

ie., London - I would ride my bike in downtown Toronto over London any day. Where there are bike lanes in London they are mostly shared with buses. And if you think TO car drivers are scary, trust me when I say sharing a lane with a London bus is worse - way, way worse.

Boris' proposed bike highway is much like Transit City - a plan on paper which will never happen anything like the plan. Do the math on Boris' plan - $60 million per KM... In a country with a massive deficit. To give you a benchmark, Eglinton TTC expansion is $150m / km. It's not gonna happen. And even if it did, could you not think of better things to spend $1.5b on for bike efforts?

At $400/bike you could buy and give away 3,750,000 bikes for free. What would make a bigger difference?

That's the problem with this debate - it automatically degenerates into bike vs non-bike and all rationality goes out the window.

Take Toronto's $1.2m bike locker. At $400/bike you could give away 3,000 bikes to needy families who would use them as transport.

We need to move ahead but this article is just like the proposals from the politicians - make for debate and not a real solution.
Question for Capt Obvious (and other drivers) replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 13, 2013 at 01:11 pm
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If there had been cars there instead of bikes, would you have beeped and asked them to move too?

This is the problem in a nutshell. You view them things to move out of your way when you deem they should, not as fellow traffic. While it would be courteous of them to pull their bikes over to the curb, they are part of traffic and don't necessarily need to.

Kind of a mindbomb, isn't it?
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Please go back... / April 13, 2013 at 02:11 pm
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I'm sorry that I keep referring to New York. I'm a Toronto ex-pat who moved to New York and so my viewpoint is naturally going to reflect what I see here. Given how many things in Toronto seem to occur within a bubble, and the massive urban changes that have happened in New York in recent years (which Torontonians tend to be unaware of), I believe a little outside perspective to be helpful.
hamish wilson / April 13, 2013 at 03:10 pm
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This is a good reference point; even many comments are useful. We are indeed very behind - not just the world cities, not just most Canadian cities, but as we remove bike lanes, we lag many other Ontario cities too!! Meanwhile, how many bikes could the $600M Gardiner repairs buy? Or the Pearson link?

Not that I support many recent bike fusses eg. Jarvis; even the bike station fuss is sad. Why I say that is that we truly need a single, safe, smooth set of routes and to repaint a bit of Bloor St. - old style paint on road is better than nothing - it's $100,000 to repaint Bloor from Spadina to Dundas St. W. and after 7-odd years of nudging on this no-brainer (backed up by a 1992 study saying yes, #1 for E/W in the core) we see a repaving occurring this summer - but with NO improvements for bike safety occurring as it seems we need an EA to repaint lane lines, but nothing for the $600M Gardiner repairs. The local Councillors of Perks, Bailao, Layton and Vaughan are good at saying things about better Bloor biking, but where is it?
It's not only Caronto the Carrupt, but stupid, though to be fair, the core is usually outvoted by the suburbs.
Captain Obvious replying to a comment from Question for Capt Obvious (and other drivers) / April 13, 2013 at 10:34 pm
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I've been at that intersection over 100 times, cars in that lane are always turning right literally 100% of the time. Your attitude is exactly what is setting cyclists back in the town, "I can f-with you so I will". To you and people like you I say karma's a bitch...
Captain Crunch replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 14, 2013 at 12:40 am
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now you are just sounding like you hate all cyclists because a few did you wrong. learn to play with others in the sandbox!
Mommy replying to a comment from Question for Capt Obvious (and other drivers) / April 14, 2013 at 01:48 am
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"If there had been cars there instead of bikes, would you have beeped and asked them to move too?"

Of course. It's a right turn lane, so TURN ASSHOLES!!
ttraveller replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / April 14, 2013 at 11:15 am
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All this is true and I biked Manhattan last summer. A revelation. But people's attitudes in Toronto are so far from this list as to make it totally incomprehensible. Over here we are a sandbox of feuding juveniles who are totally incapable of seeing the big picture. Always has been. Always will be.
hamish wilson / April 14, 2013 at 05:19 pm
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For proof of ttraveller's comment, see the ones above.
Or this: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/04/12/lahood-zero-tolerance-for-drivers-who-disrespect-cyclists/
John Spragge replying to a comment from ttraveller / April 14, 2013 at 06:43 pm
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Actually, I think we have a solution to ignorance. It's called education.
John Spragge replying to a comment from Mommy / April 14, 2013 at 06:47 pm
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If you look at Google street view, nothing marks the lane in question as a right turn lane.
John Spragge replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / April 14, 2013 at 07:04 pm
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I wouldn't take it personally. Maybe he just remembered how Jenna Morrison died, run over by a right turning vehicle. Maybe he saw something he didn't like in the traffic behind you.
Jay / April 14, 2013 at 09:15 pm
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Yeah! Another cyclist both fear blog on BlogTO. Like there's not a hundred on here already. And not one provides new or innovative solutions. Just more bitching, ranting, and name calling.
the lemur replying to a comment from Lew Ashby / April 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm
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I'm not advocating for bike lanes where they don't make sense, and I'm all for riding on roads that are safer because of lower traffic. But where exactly has the city put in bike lanes that reduced car traffic volume from many thousands a day to a few hundred?
the lemur replying to a comment from Aus Mike / April 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm
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I don't know about Australia (although I've heard a fair bit about anti-bike hostility there), but talking about cities in Europe as if they were all bike utopias of one shade or another is a bit of trap. There are several that on balance aren't much better than Toronto in some ways:

Berlin: someone had the dumb idea of painting bike lanes onto the edges of sidewalks, which means you have to dodge pedestrians and puts you in danger at corners and intersections

Brussels: heavy traffic, bike lanes that get parked in constantly, hostile drivers

Vienna: a paradise for bike lane parkers

Amsterdam: not bad in itself, but too readily cited as an example when it's not comparable to Toronto, which is less dense and more spread out.
Patrick / April 15, 2013 at 11:35 am
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Yes, there are "bad" riders that are rude and violent to motorists, this is true. What is also true is when you have a sociological imbalance where one group is prefereed over the other (that is called discrimination) the discriminated group will feel the need to express themselves through deviant action in order to bring light to the structural imbalance.

We shit on cyclists daily, is it any wonder they aren't all that friendly in general? Start treating us like human beings and... hey we might actually start acting like it!
serenitynow replying to a comment from Mommy / April 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm
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Actually.. he stated it wasnt a "right turn only" lane in a previous message.
Mommy replying to a comment from serenitynow / April 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm
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In that case, he was wrong. Cheers.
Lew Ashby replying to a comment from the lemur / April 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm
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I gave an example in that post. When they shut down two of the four lanes on Dundas Street East from Coxwell to Broadview to install east and westbound bike lanes, those lanes went from carrying thousands of vehicles per day to zero vehicles per day. I don't drive a car anymore but did then and distinctly recall the disaster that caused for my commute into the city (one of the few where he didn't get jammed behind streetcar constantly). The proponents of the lanes observed that bicycle traffic went up from 7 bikes per hour to 25 per hour in the months of October and November that year. What a smashing victory.
the lemur / April 15, 2013 at 11:43 pm
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Oh, so now it's thousands of vehicles down to zero (as if bikes aren't vehicles). And there's 'I got stuck behind a streetcar' - the rallying cry of a Toronto driver who can't figure out that you're supposed to pass streetcars, or at least go alongside until you can pass, not draft them. Probably better that you no longer drive (and I do).
Lew Ashby replying to a comment from the lemur / April 16, 2013 at 09:00 am
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Clearly reading comprehension is not a strength for "The Lemur". I reiterate my original point: it's simply idiotic to shut down a lane that can be fully utilized by cars for 12 months of the year so it can be exclusively used by sparse bicycle traffic 8 months per year, and almost none for the remaining four. Those who advocate for such "solutions" only do harm to the cause of improving bicycle infrastructure and safety in the city.
the lemur replying to a comment from Lew Ashby / April 16, 2013 at 09:22 am
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Allowing on-street parking is a much, much bigger problem for traffic flow. Whiny drivers got to keep their parking on most of that stretch of Dundas - if the bike lanes were not there, the remaining space for traffic would not allow for two lanes of car traffic.

And in view of how freely drivers park and sometimes drive in bike lanes, I wouldn't call it exclusive use either.
Linda replying to a comment from Lew Ashby / April 16, 2013 at 10:09 am
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The harder it is to drive downtown and the higher the price of gas/insurance, the more people will decide to take transit, bike or walk. Humans are like that.

Our city can no longer tolerate the selfish solo driver who wants the convenience of driving their SUV downtown everyday.

Our roads can't handle it anymore and neither can our lungs. Get with the program.
GRAARG / April 17, 2013 at 10:08 am
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I have two bikes. I like bikes. We have 5 people and 8 bikes in our house.

Bikes are not a solution to congestion. Ripping out a car/bus lane and putting less people on bikes through it than people in cars or buses actually leads to more congestion (and pollution).

Which is not to say we should not have bike lanes. But if you read some of the comments above you’d think that we could solve our traffic woes via bike lanes and more biking. We can’t, they make it worse.

Subways, LRT, and mega-streetcars running on rights of way reduce congestion and pollution – more bike lanes add to it.

Biking is good for your lungs, heart, and muscles. Biking releases stuff in your body which makes your brain happy. But biking is not the answer to traffic woes. Biking as a source of transport (vs for fun) will only be for a few, no matter how many bike lanes we put in.

Biking has a place in the transport mix but the real way to reduce congestion and pollution is through a massive ramp up of public transit.
the lemur / April 17, 2013 at 10:52 am
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It's not usually about 'ripping out' any lanes at all - we have a lot of travel lanes that are wide enough to accommodate the inclusion of a bike lane.

Fewer people on bikes than there are in cars or on buses? Where do you get that from? More congestion - stats please?
cyrcie / April 17, 2013 at 11:02 am
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People forget the Martin Goodman trail stretches for many miles and is part of Toronto's biking infrastructure.
the lemur replying to a comment from cyrcie / April 17, 2013 at 11:47 am
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Which is great, if your bike trip happens to be along the waterfront and you don't mind the fact that pedestrians are wandering on the bike section instead of the pedestrian boardwalk (and vice versa). We have opportunities to build more off-street bike infrastructure like this, along railway right-of-ways and hydro corridors, and I forgot to mention in my reply to GRAARG that bike lanes can certainly be installed in places where we have absurdly wide and underused sidewalks.
Aaron replying to a comment from the lemur / April 18, 2013 at 12:12 am
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Berlin does not "paint bike lanes onto the edges of sidewalks". If you'd get off the fucking internet long enough to actually go there you'd know this. They do have lanes that run between the sidewalk and street but they are made of different material and usually separated by a median strip or lamp posts. They also have 100's of km's of on-street lanes and over 20 cross town routes.

Amsterdam and Toronto share similar density but they (and Copenhagen) are models of what can be achieved while Torontonians argue, bicker and make excuses. The end result is half-assed everything and fuck all accomplished year after year after fucking year. Building 100's of ugly, poorly-constructed investorflippercondos is about the only thing Toronto is good at any more.
vip.lv / April 27, 2013 at 08:22 am
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It's hard to find experienced people in this particular topic, however, you seem like you know what you're talking about!
Thanks

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