Sustainable transportation plans galore

London, England has just unveiled a jaw-dropping new plan to greatly increase the amount of walking and cycling in the city.

London plans to spend the equivalent of almost a billion dollars over the next decade on a series of massive cycling and walking initiatives throughout the greater London area. The schemes include a huge bikes-for-hire system in the city centre, designated cycle commuter routes, bike zones with cycle priority streets in shopping and school areas, and a massive new wayfinding system for pedestrians.

I particularly like the way cycling is seen as becoming a “fully-funded part of the public transport network” — that is, something that is worth significant ongoing funding as part of a coherent transportation strategy. The stated goal is to have one in ten Londoners make a round trip by bike every day.

Meanwhile, in the rest of Great Britain, a plan to build crossings and bridges for walkers and cyclists that create new direct routes to destinations in communities across the nation has just been awarded the equivalent of almost a hundred million dollars. It’s a recognition that pedestrians and cyclists need and deserve their own infrastructure.

Meanwhile, back in Toronto, the newly-named Metrolinx (old GTTA) has started to put out extended discussion papers about sustainable transportation, and is looking for public feedback. Their website is still terrible, so that, in one place, you can download the documents but you don’t know their names, while in another place you can see the names but some published documents aren’t yet available. But it’s still a good thing that they are putting a lot of work into the issue, and especially that they have produced a discussion paper specifically focused on active transportation (walking and cycling). I encourage all transportation geeks to have a look and send them comments.

photo by Graeme


  1. Crossings and bridges are the first place any new money should go, once antideluvian Toronto follows the lead of NY, which is following the lead of London, which is following the lead of the Danes and the Dutch (sad, sad).

    Poor crossings over the QEW and 400 series highways have killed a few people, and scared off many. There is also a need for pedestrian/cycling bridges over many of our our ravines, because without them we have to go out of our way to a bridge, which is inevitably a busy auto route. Crossings and bridges are something that will make cycling and walking routes more contiguous immediately, not inconvenience the auto-holic public, and are not subject to the thoughtlessness and inconsistency in design which characterizes our bike lanes, and even some of our sidewalks.

  2. It is measures like this in combination with existing and proposed charges (the congestion charge, the proposed carbon charge–see link) that make sense. Sadly, all a congestion or a carbon charge in Toronto would go into general tax coffers, to be paid out in the following proportions: 40% to TPS, 15% to Fire Services… Tax something bad to pay for a public good.

  3. Any advocacy group already have a list of needed pedestrian crossings and bridges? Would make an interesting article. Mine are focused on the south of the city and include:
    – over the Gardiner at Windemere, Jameson
    – these and the one at Parkside should have higher barriers for safety
    – under the Gardiner and protected from traffic at Spadina, Bay and Jarvis
    – across the Humber halfway between the Queensway and Bloor
    – across Etobicoke creek south of the QEW
    – establish a right-of-way on all ravine bike paths through the golf courses which are in the way
    – there should be a safe crossing every 2km over/under every 400 series highway in the city (safe means safe enough to send your child in elementary)

  4. Jameson already overpasses the Gardiner but is rather stressful to use due to the level Lakeshore westbound crossing and the Gardiner westbound ramps. Ellis underpasses the Gardiner and is very near Windermere. You do have a point the distance between Parklawn and Ellis may be a bit long without crossings but there are much more severe examples of roadways as barriers to pedestrian and bicyclists.
    A Humber crossing between Bloor and the Queensway would be something of a challenge due to the structure of the east bank. You will see what I mean if you walk up S Kingsway and Riverside Dr/Riverside Tr/Brule Gdns. That this is a particularly affluent area rather possessive of “its” “public” spaces would make this battle something more than one fought uphill I fear.
    I’m with you on the golf courses. Far too much of the trail network unceremoniously dumps users onto carterials. Why can’t the city get a route through Donalda? York Mills may be 6 lanes wide on that bit of the bike route but every one of those lanes is bicycle hostile. While we are on the topic of trails how about some maintenance? If roadworks were in the state much of these trails are the autoholics would be screaming and suing. The Humber north from the Queensway has had motorvehicle ruts in it for as long as I can remember. The “trail” north from Neilson Pk to Rathburn requires wayfinding just to locate given the severity of its degradation. That through Chalkfarm Pk, Exbury Pk and Heathrow Pk is extremely degraded. There is need for signage to the Heathrow Pk entrance from Jane St (you REALLY need to see it to believe it). The river crossing in Downsview Dells is a mud wrassling pit. What happened to the trail that was supposed to be built following the Hydro right of way north of Finch? And what of winter snow clearing?
    On another front how about giving the bikelanes that were installed on S Kingsway in the mid 1980s back to bicyclists? They are infested with motorvehicles on any given day now. It is also imperative all underpasses have bikelanes. If this means taking a lane from autoholics that is not a bad thing. The temporary blindness that goes with changes in lighting makes these accidents waiting to happen. That the pavement under these tends to remain in degraded states for extended periods indicates these MUST be particularly wide (2m +).
    BUT the real issue is education. This cannot remain the “one time” driver assessment we presently have but must include media blitzes and periodic awareness assessments. Inability to accept other than motor traffic as being entitled to road space should result in immediate cessation of driving privileges. Any offence that indicates intolerance of other road users should require successful re-examination before driving privileges are returned. Aggression by motorists directed at vulnerable road users (ie bicyclists and pedestrians) should open the door to criminal charges including assault with a weapon and homicide rather than being dismissed as presently with paltry $100 fines and traffic violations. These are assaults and murders. Why are we letting people off when they are armed with 3000+ lb projectiles that are at least as lethal as guns?

  5. The first poster is sure on the ball especially with regard to the 400 series highways in the GTA. The 401 is an effective Berlin Wall across Toronto for cyclists; there is not one pedestrian/cyclist bridge or tunnel anywhere that I know of. As such, cyclists must cross over/under it in a lane of busy entering and exiting cars on an arterial road. This is very dangerous, and a disgrace in a modern built up city like Toronto. Changing this will require significant funding, but should be a high priority for funding agencies if we are serious about making all of Toronto, not just downtown, bicycle friendly.

  6. Sorry, but I had to add this:
    ” Ken Livingstone’s (mayor of London) plan is partly in response to demands by the Green Party, whose support he needs to win the London Assembly’s approval for his budget. Jenny Jones, a Green assembly member, said: ‘Making it more enjoyable for people to go by foot will help to cut congestion and relieve pressure on some of London’s busiest bus and Tube routes.’ ” – Times Online

Comments are closed.