In May 2016, city council approved a pilot program to install bike lanes on Bloor St. The good news? These lanes may finally become a permanent fixture in Toronto.
According to a report, which is expected to be discussed in city council in November, staff are recommending the city maintain the eastbound and westbound cycle tracks on Bloor St. as a “permanent installation”. Toronto Mayor John Tory expressed his support for the program at a press conference on SmartTrack consultations, saying the lanes had a positive impact on the community. There has been some discussion regarding improvements or the inclusion of small modifications to help support businesses and car safety, but the important part of the rhetoric following the release of this report is that most politicians seem to be supporting the recommendations.
The data shows that installation of the bike lanes along Bloor St. has increased cycling by 49 per cent as of June 2017. Twenty-five per cent are new riders.
“Based on public opinion surveys, the introduction of bike lanes have significantly increased levels of comfort and safety for both motorists and cyclists,” the report reads. ” In addition, a strong majority of pedestrians feel their experience walking on Bloor Street with bike lanes installed is about the same or better than it was previously.”
The biggest complaint regarding the bike lanes was from business owners who were concerned about the negative impact these changes would have on their workplace. However, the report says that a door-to-door merchant and pedestrian survey found that most businesses reported an increase in customers and visitors reported spending more.
If council decides not to follow these recommendations, it will cost $450,000 to remove the bike lanes, money that is not available in the budget.