Toronto could soon begin work on 25 kilometres of new bike lanes, much of it coming as part of the city’s efforts to open up roads to cyclists amid the coronavirus pandemic.
City council is scheduled to vote on the plan at its next meeting on Thursday, May 28.
The report calls for new cycling infrastructure to be installed on the following streets:
- Bloor Street West from Shaw Street to Runnymede Road (designated cycle track).
- Varna Drive from Ranee Avenue to New Heights Court (designated bicycle lane).
The plan also calls for an expansion of the city’s new ActiveTO program, in which roadways are quickly and temporarily redesigned to create more cycling space.
- Bloor Street from Avenue Road to Sherbourne Street (cycle track).
- Dundas Street East, from Sackville Street to Broadview Avenue (cycle track).
- University Avenue / Queens Park, from Adelaide Street to Bloor Street (cycle track).
- Huntingwood Drive, from Victoria Park Ave to Brimley Road (designated bicycle lane).
- Brimley Road, from Kingston Road to Lawrence Avenue (cycle track).
- Danforth Avenue, from Broadview Avenue to Dawes Road (cycle track).
- Bayview Avenue, from River Street to Rosedale Valley Road (multi-use trail).
- River Street, from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue (multi-use trail).
- Wilmington Avenue, from Finch Avenue to Sheppard Avenue (bicycle lane).
- Faywood Boulevard, from Sheppard Avenue to Wilson Avenue (bicycle lane).
Cycle tracks are physically separated from vehicle traffic, often by bollards or planters, while bicycle lanes are distinguished by painted lines on the road. Multi-use trails can sometimes be used by pedestrians.
“Expanding bikeways will help increase mobility options for people as the City starts to reopen and the need for travel increases,” reads the report going to city council.
The plan says the new infrastructure will be ready “as early as summer 2020,” though specific target dates have not yet been provided.
“Most of the ActiveTO projects aimed at expanding the cycling network contained within this report are proposed as rapid installations with temporary materials and minimal change to the street design,” the report continues.
The portion on Danforth Avenue would include a more thorough redesign of the streetscape, including other forms of public space and more room for patios.
Bike lanes needed above subway lines, councillors say
In a joint statement, councillors Mike Layton, Joe Cressy and Kristyn Wong-Tam voiced their support for the expansion, which would bring new bike lanes to each of their downtown wards.
The councillors said the proposed new lanes on Bloor Street and University Avenue are particularly critical, since they could provide relief to the TTC subway lines running underneath those streets.
“As we begin to transition to recovery in Toronto and more businesses and workplaces open back up, how we will get around is a pressing challenge. For safe physical distancing we need to create alternative and safe methods of transportation,” the statement said.
In a video posted on YouTube Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory and several other city councillors also expressed their support for the expansion.
Tory said making it easier for people to bike will be good for the local economy in addition to public health.
“That’s going to mean more business for shop owners, it’s going to mean that we’re going to take some of the pressure off our transit system and protect the health of the city,” Tory said of the proposed lanes.
If approved, the plan would bring Toronto’s total amount of new cycling infrastructure to 40 kilometres so far in 2020.