News / Toronto

Toronto council passes scaled back bike plan

The public works committee will review progress on the 10-year plan in 2018, at which time they could decide to undertake the remaining major corridor studies.

A cyclist makes her way up Broadview avenue near Danforth.

torstar news service

A cyclist makes her way up Broadview avenue near Danforth.

East-end councillors rescued a proposal that could eventually bring bike lanes to Danforth Ave. but council approved a weakened version of the city’s new cycling plan Thursday.

Councillors voted 38-2 to adopt the 10-year bike network blueprint, which was a scaled back version of a proposal transportation staff put forward in May.

Public works chair Councillor Jaye Robinson called the decision a “great compromise.”

“Councillors are all over the map when it comes to bike lanes in the city, and today . . . somehow we struck a chord and a compromise,” she said.

The initial plan identified 525 km of new bike infrastructure to be built over the next decade in order to create a citywide connected network. About 100 km of the new bikeways would have gone along eight major corridors, including Yonge St., Jane St., Kipling Ave., Kingston Rd., and Danforth Ave.

Last month, the public works and infrastructure committee approved an amendment that took the studies of major corridors off the table, except on sections of Yonge and Bloor where studies were already underway.

The move upset councillors representing wards along Danforth, who argued that there was strong support in their communities for bike lanes on the street. After behind-the-scenes negotiations public works chair Robinson, who moved the original motion to scrap the major corridor studies, agreed to consider putting Danforth back into the network.

The motion she moved at council asked staff to come back with a recommendation to study the idea in the third quarter of 2017, taking into account the results of the pilot project of separated bike lanes on a section of Bloor that will begin this year.

It’s not clear when new cycling infrastructure could come to Danforth, but Robinson predicted it could be several years.

The public works committee will review progress on the 10-year plan in 2018, at which time they could decide to undertake the remaining major corridor studies.

The total cost of the plan is estimated at $153.5 million over 10 years. Council voted to fund it at a rate of $16 million a year, roughly double the current spending on bike infrastructure. They voted down a motion by Councillor Mike Layton to increase funding to $25 million a year, which he said could have completed the new network within seven years.

“How fast do we want to make our streets safer?” he asked.

Council also rejected an attempt to keep cycling infrastructure funding at $8 million.

As part of a flurry of motions voted on at the end of the debate, a motion asking transportation staff to examine “seasonal” cycle tracks that could be removed during winter months was also given a green light.

There are “way less cyclists who use these cycle tracks” during winter, said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who moved the motion.

“The thing that drives people crazy is seeing a cycle track where no one is on it, and you’re stuck in traffic.

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