News / Toronto

Toronto councillors ask for bigger bike budget

Boosting the annual cycling budget by about $10 million could fast track the construction of more protected bike lanes.

A motion by two bike-friendly councillors is seeking to boost the city’s bike budget to build a “minimum grid” of protected cycle lanes and help cyclists avoid busy crossings like these.

Torstar News Service file

A motion by two bike-friendly councillors is seeking to boost the city’s bike budget to build a “minimum grid” of protected cycle lanes and help cyclists avoid busy crossings like these.

How much should the city spend to make commuting safer for cyclists?

That’s the question before Toronto’s public works committee Tuesday as councillors debate the possibility of boosting the city’s bike budget.

Couns. Mike Layton and Mary-Margaret McMahon are asking that the annual cycling budget be upped from $14 million to $20 million, or even $25 million, to help fast-track construction of a “minimum grid” of protected bike lanes.

“The cycling budget is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall budget,” McMahon said. “We’re investing a heck of a lot more in other areas of transportation, and cycling shouldn’t always be at the bottom of the totem pole.”

Completing the minimum grid would require building an additional 100 kilometres of protected bike lanes on major roads and another 100 kilometres of contra-flow lanes – like the ones installed on Shaw Street – along residential corridors, according to Cycle Toronto.

The price tag is an estimated $50 to $150 million, depending on how and where the lanes are built.

The grid is mentioned in the city’s 10-year cycling plan, but McMahon and Layton say increasing the budget could allow it to be built by 2018.

“It’s high time. I just want cyclists to be safer on the road,” McMahon said, recounting an experience where she was knocked off her bike by a driver at Gerrard and Woodbine.

In particular, McMahon wants the cycling grid expanded in the east end, where she says there are no north-south bike lanes east of Greenwood Avenue.

As for how to pay for the expanded budget, McMahon said Toronto should investigate additional revenue tools, including a possible sales tax, road tolls or increased parking and hotel levies.