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NEWS (Nov. 2017): Pilot project becomes permanent

November 24th, 2017 · No Comments

Council resoundingly votes in favour of Bloor Street bike lanes

By Geremy Bordonaro

It’s been a long time coming but the Bloor Street bike lanes are now a permanent fixture of the community.

After hours of debate, questions, and rhetoric, Toronto City Council resoundingly voted 36 to 6 in favour of keeping the lanes. The decision came after an October Public Works and Infrastructure Committee vote in favour of adopting the recommendation of the city’s transportation staff to make the lanes permanent. The bike lanes were installed in August 2016 after council approved a pilot project that May.

“I cannot overstate the significance and importance of the decision that we’re about to make today,” said Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) at the council meeting. “Because for 40 years people have been working to make bike lanes permanent. For 40 years.”

The city and various organizations conducted extensive studies that measured the impact the lanes had on the street. Within a year it was found that biking on Bloor Street increased by nearly 50 per cent. The street had become the second most used bike lane in the city after Adelaide and Richmond streets. Safety was significantly increased, and a large majority of pedestrians, cyclists, and residents support the lanes.

This made the decision easy for city staff.

“Our city staff have stated, unequivocally, that bike lanes on Bloor [Street] not only work but they work well and should be made permanent,” Cressy said. “And I agree with them completely. Bike lanes on Bloor should be here to stay.”

Not all of the councillors supported the lanes, however.

Issues like the increase in car travel times during rush hours, lack of parking, and difficulties loading and unloading on the street were sticking points during the council debate. One councillor in particular, Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West), called the lanes reminiscent of a scene from a Third World country.

“I cannot believe how this has been rammed through,” Mammoliti said. “I can’t believe the amount of intimidation that is going on [along] Bloor Street.”

Mammoliti thought of the decision as foregone. He was one of six councillors to vote against the lanes but he pledged that he would be back and that the lanes would not stay.

“You got your way today. But at the end of the day this doesn’t finish here, folks. Don’t think for a second that you’ve won this thing. At the end of the day it’s going to come back and it’s going to be reversed.”

Mammoliti said he believes that businesses — which are mixed in their support of the lanes — will help support the removal of the lanes. He also called on drivers to shout down the decision.

“Bike lanes do not need to be on our streets,” Mammoliti said. “And we have forced them out, not because of safety matters, but because there is a war on the car.”

Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) saw the decision as an opportunity to look back at the differences between the city’s old boroughs.

“Maybe this is, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the mega city amalgamation, a cause for reflection. To me, that is, certainly one of the reflections is that we’re a very big and complex city,” said Mihevc. “In downtown we have our own reality. The fact that this vote will be unanimous from a downtown point of view I think should inform some folks in the suburbs that mobility is happening differently on Bloor Street.”

He also pointed out that drivers are not responsible for the business activity on Bloor Street.

“It’s funny that on the economic side 90 per cent of the people who are attracted to businesses on Bloor Street come there walking, cycling, and on public transit.”

 

READ MORE:

NEWS: Here to stay? (Oct. 2017)

FORUM: A magical new supply of parking spots (October 2017)

EDITORIAL: Bike lanes, good for business (Fall 2017)

CHATTER: Preliminary data on Bloor Street pilot bike lane released (March 2017)

CHATTER: Ground-breaking bike lanes launch on Bloor Street (August 2016)

NEWS: Bikes blessed for another season (June 2016)

FOCUS: An early advocate for bike lanes (June 2016)

NEWS: Bike lanes for Bloor Street (May 2016)

The faster we lower speeds, the more lives we save (October 2015)

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