Best of 2006: bike lanes

It’s nearly impossible to pick a “best” bike lane for 2006 — I mean, 10 kilometres were added to the bikeway network last year! (please note my sarcasm). Of that, I believe just over 2 km (1 km on Strachan and 1 km for the Harbord extension, plus the lane on Sentinel mentioned below) are actual on-street bike lanes.

So, I think it’s fair to say that the best is yet to come. When car traffic is finally replaced with bike lanes to complete the long-neglected and sketchy section of the Martin Goodman trail from Spadina to York, as part of the waterfront revitalization, cyclists in this city will truly have something to rejoice about.

Queen’s Quay was temporarily transformed into a cyclist and pedestrian paradise in August, much to the delight of the city’s cyclists, tourists and most local residents (the Star‘s report of “mixed reviews” for the project generated some interesting discussion on the Spacing Wire earlier in the year.)

Since it was such a difficult task to decide on the “best” bike lane for 2006, I conferred with resident expert Martin Koob, TCAT coordinating team member and TBN‘s representative to the Toronto Cycling Committee. He also runs the ever-informative biketoronto website. Here’s what he said in part:

I think the best bike lane in 2006 would be the one on Sentinel in North York from Finch to The Pond Road. One of the reasons is that it was an extension of a bike lane project that was originally slated to be from Grandravine to the Finch Hydro Corridor. Cooperation from York University allowed them to continue the bike lane up to The Pond Road right into the York University campus. This addition to the project is also due to some of the work of the people at Smart Commute North Toronto Vaughan and their work with York University(‘s transportation department). Unfortunately the original part of the project from Grandravine to Finch has not been completed yet, hopefully this year.

I have not yet had the pleasure of riding on this lane. But I spoke to Brian Shifman, Executive Director of Smart Commute North Toronto Vaughan, and he assured me that it is well used, adding that his organization’s BUG (Bicycle User Group) now has over 300 members.

Martin’s full article — the most comprehensive review of cycling infrastructure in Toronto for 2006 — is available here on page 7 of TBN’s most recent newsletter.

It is of interest to note that some of the best cycling projects were not done by the City, but by other agencies. For example, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority in conjunction with the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation installed the Scarborough Waterfront trail. (Read more on that here.) Another example is the reconstruction of the Martin Goodman Trail in Marilyn Bell Park, which was also done by the TWRC in record time.

View more great pics of the Queen’s Quay transformation by Peter Hudd at the bikingtoronto site. Previous Spacing posts on Quay to the City event can be found here and here. Photo of sculpture courtesy of treehugger.com

4 comments

  1. I had a distinct recollection of sending a comment in last week – and was fairly sure it made it over. Do we have a repeat of an election survey? Is it my old machine? Are comments screened?

    And since I’ve started a quicker recap – as I vaguely remember – it’s really all kinda beyond weak to rather pathetic what our priorities are. Please beware of the tendency to put bike lanes in more burban areas though they’re needed there too of course, when most riders and the most bike-friendly areas are downtown. And to contrast the one project – the 10-day Queen’s Quay try – that was $900,000 to do, yet 8kms of the Bloor bike lane beside the high-capacity subway would be $200,000 leaving lots left over to fund the Yellow Bike program for years and years (it just withered as part of Mayor Miller’s efforts to fight climate change maybe?) But if they want to get the yellowbike program up again, clearly they should move headquarters to the Waterfront area, and make sure that there’s a red geranium on every bike too, making it all more eligible for funding including city beautiful bucks.

  2. ^hamish> On occasion people’s machines somehow sabotage their comment-leaving-ability, or there is an internet burp of some kind. But mostly it’s reliable.

    We do screen these comments, but only to get rid of the 5-10 spam comments that come in per hour — the most vile, awful porno spamvertisements you can imagine. Sometimes there are so many we go down and check for “real” comments quickly and mass delete the bad — on occasion may have accidentally deleted a real one lost in that spam-sea — some of it so “well done” it uses public-space-words to trojan horse the spam in, making it harder to quickly spot.

    So, if it didn’t show, was probably the former, but maybe the latter.

  3. Heya Hamish – yep, weak and pathetic perhaps, indeed…
    But for this exercise, I thought it would be good to keep the pressure on this particular project. I did have an email somewhere from one of the West8 architects vauguely guaranteeing me that they would be permanent..but was unable to find it for the post. And I was late sending out my little press release/alert to the post! sorry!

    I also had a thorough but short list of all the “worst of” for bikes, but chose to refrain for fear of being labelled a typical negative bike activist type…and, really, it just seemed too easy. Definitely, the Bikeshare debablewas at the top of that list.

    Also, I think alot of York U students would disagree with you on the need for the SEntinel lane (which will eventually help connect the massive Finch corridor hydro path.)

    thx for the comment – better late than never!
    tt

  4. thanks all, I can be wrong, beyond being a hopefully learning luddite and carmudgeonly. And sorry for not being quite so appreciative of the behind-the-scenes upkeep required for the e-commons/comments/commence!
    Over half the cyclists in the “city” are in the old core of TO and the city bike/car crash map shows a quite clear pattern on the east-west carterials, which often have extra hazards with streetcar tracks. So I’m even getting opposed to the costly west end railpath project (at about $1.3M a km) vs. the taketheTooker Bloor bike lane/way idea which would be cheap and could save lives.
    And yes, the suburbs are dangerous for cyclists, a big problem apparently being the removal of wide curb lanes with passing space for left hand turn lanes. And are you sure it’s alright to put safe passage for cyclists just in parks – except this safe passage may get to be unsafe for women (and maybe some men) after dark?
    At least we’ve got some snow, and new things to vex about, though the City has done some better work in clearing the bike lanes of snow, not pushing the snow into them.
    Yes, always late, and slower… sigh
    hamish

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