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New report outlines vision for how to make Toronto a world-class cycling city

The Metcalf foundation report has 16 recommendations, from more bike parking to offering bike mechanic classes in high-school.

With more bike lanes, bike parking and winter maintenance, Toronto could be on the level of Amsterdam or Copenhagen, says the coauthor of a new report on cycling from the Metcalf Foundation.

Eduardo Lima/Metro / Metro Order this photo

With more bike lanes, bike parking and winter maintenance, Toronto could be on the level of Amsterdam or Copenhagen, says the coauthor of a new report on cycling from the Metcalf Foundation.

Toronto has the potential to be a world-class cycling city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen, if only we apply ourselves.

That’s the message of a new report from Toronto’s Metcalf Foundation, which offers 16 recommendations on how to achieve this bold future.

“It’s a very positive and hopeful vision for Toronto,” said Beth Savan, a faculty member at the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment and a co-author of the report with Trudy Ledsham.

She added the city is already moving toward some of the recommendations, including a Vision Zero road-safety plan that aspires to absolutely no road deaths or serious injuries.

“This is something that we can do; it’s something that people want,” she said.

Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto who served as a local advisor for the report, called the recommendations “signposts” on the path to making the city more bike-friendly.

“I think that’s what really comes out of this report, clearly, is that Toronto needs a transportation master plan,” he said.

While council passed a 10-year cycling plan last year, it’s  “disconnected” from other transportation plans and doesn’t embrace protected bike lanes, Kolb added.

“I think we’re on the road,” he said, “but I think we still have quite a ways to go.”

Cyclist and safe-streets advocate Albert Koehl praised the report as “excellent” but said the city has no shortage of such recommendations.

“The challenge in Toronto has been we’ve long had excellent reports like this,” he said.

The cycling infrastructure works, said Koehl, pointing to the Bloor bike lanes. They see an average of 150 to 200 riders during rush hour in January, according to advocacy group Bells on Bloor.

“The real gap has always been in the political leadership,” he added.

By the numbers:

According to the report, half the trips in the city are short enough to be taken by bike, and between 2006-2011, daily cycling trips in Toronto increased by 75 per cent.

Six recommendations from the plan:

1) Improve winter maintenance of bike lanes

2) Offer bicycle mechanic courses to high schools

3) Research and pilot cargo bikes for small parcel delivery over the “last mile,” the stretch between transit stations and homes or businesses

4) Provide cycle service and repair facilities in low-cycling neighbourhoods

5) Prioritize a bicycle parking strategy

6) Invest in bike infrastructure, including separated lanes

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