Expanding Toronto Bike Share Aims to Bridge the Last Kilometre

Promising news today from Toronto.

Todd Harrison at Spacing Toronto says the city’s bike-share system is expanding thanks to an infusion of funds from Ontario. The best part: Docking stations will be sited near transit stops to bridge “the first and last kilometres.”

Photo: Spacing Toronto
Photo: Spacing Toronto

Harrison sees the move as an indication that Bike Share Toronto will, for the first time, position itself as a service for commuters.

At the program’s outset, many stations were placed seemingly to benefit tourists. Later, then-owner Bixi ran an ad campaign that pitched bike sharing as way to hop from one social destination to another — which always struck me as only slightly better than the cycling strategy Rob Ford published in 2010, which depicted cycling as a purely trail-based recreational activity. There are many possible reasons why Bike Share Toronto is marketed in this manner. Perhaps the Toronto Parking Authority, like the program’s previous administrator, figures that anyone who wants to commute to work on a bike is already doing so. It might also be the limited range of the network, or the fact that commuters’ unidirectional nature would create bike-distribution hassles.

Yet despite all this, many Bike Share Toronto members use the system to get to and from work — often in combination with public transit. If this is indeed the kind of user Metrolinx and the City intend to attract by putting more bikes outside of subway stations, their way forward is clear: Think of bike sharing as an inexpensive, modular, smaller-scale version of the downtown relief line, and act accordingly.

Harrison points out that the expansion must be supported with bike infrastructure and smart marketing. If done right, he says, the system could help reduce transit overcrowding. “Toronto’s program has a wealth of untapped potential,” he writes.

Elsewhere on the Network: Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space lists the must-haves for a safer, more sustainable city; Greater Greater Washington says DC may be in for a serious housing shortage; and Washington Bikes examines what will be lost of Governor Jay Inslee eliminates street safety funding.

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