Rob Ford Isn’t the Only One Holding Back Toronto Bike Infrastructure

New buffered bike lanes were debuted in Toronto late last month. But why aren't they protected? Photo: Brian Gilham via I Bike TO
New buffered bike lanes wdebuted in Toronto late last month. But why aren’t they protected? Photo: Brian Gilham via I Bike TO

Bike advocates in Toronto are frustrated.

Late last month, the city added buffered bike lanes on two major thoroughfares: Richmond and Adelaide. But Toronto officials are hesitating to implement one critical aspect: physical protection that will keep the bike lane clear of cars and get more people to feel comfortable biking.

The City Council approved a protected bike lane design for these two roads 39-0, reports Streetsblog Network member I Bike TO. And Toronto has adopted the NACTO bike guide, which includes engineering standards for protected bike lanes.

So what’s the stumbling block? Herb at I Bike TO zeroes in on Transportation Services chief Stephen Buckley, who has a history of letting motorists invade bike lanes:

Buckley comes from Philadelphia, a city which has done the bare minimum for their sizable, passionate cycling population. Philadelphia ignores the problems with painted bike lanes and Buckley appears to be doing the same here.

Philadelphia is a large city with a city-wide average 2% bike mode share (compared to Toronto’s city-wide average of 1.7%). This is high for a large American city, though it’s more useful to compare the downtowns: Toronto’s mode share jumps to around 10% while Philly’s is a more modest 5%.

Under Buckley’s watch Philadelphia installed pilot bike lanes on Spruce and Pine streets which were seen as major additions to the cycling network (and a major victory of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia). Yes, bike lanes are great news, but Buckley and the City took a very loose view to motor vehicles stopping in the bike lanes.

Going to church or synagogue? God’s on your side if you park in the bike lane. Need to stop for a latte? Stop with Buckley’s blessing.

Will Toronto end up with new bike lanes constantly occupied by parked cars too?

Elsewhere on the Network today: Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space shares a map showing which states have the highest and lowest combined gas taxes. ATL Urbanist asks if walkability should be a basic civil right. And Longbeachize reports on a special, all-electric freight road in the works.

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