Corp Comm Connects

Positive city report may see Adelaide, Richmond bike lanes extended east

A city report on the first phase of the year-old lanes shows cyclists came in droves, without impeding car traffic.
June 14, 2015
By Tess Kalinowski

New downtown bike lanes along Simcoe, Richmond and Adelaide Sts. have dramatically increased - in some cases tripled - the number of cyclists using those routes without impeding car travel along the same stretches.

The city's positive evaluation of the lanes comes just as the city's public works committee is set to consider on Wednesday whether to extend the Richmond and Adelaide lanes east to Parliament St.

Approving that extension would be a chance for Mayor John Tory’s administration to do something positive for cyclists in Toronto, said Cycle Toronto executive director Jared Kolb, who rode with Tory last summer before he was elected.

The extended lanes would initially include gaps on Adelaide next to First Canadian Place and Scotia Plaza, where there is construction hoarding and heavily used loading zones on the north side of the street. If the cycling lanes were made permanent, cyclists would expect those gaps to be closed, he said.

The first phase of the lanes run along Richmond between York and Bathurst Sts.; along Adelaide between Bathurst and Simcoe and, on Simcoe from Queen to Front Sts. They're mostly separated from cars by white flexi-posts.

The city's evaluation of the pilot shows that Richmond and Adelaide combined are attracting about 4,200 bike trips on an average weekday and Simcoe is seeing about 1,100.

The biggest growth on Simcoe has been in northbound cyclists. On Adelaide the number of cyclists has tripled to about 1,600 during an eight-hour period and up to 2,500 over 24 hours.

"The volumes have been unbelievable. There are packs of 15 cyclists queuing at a light. I think there's quite a bit of pent-up demand," said Kolb, who uses the lanes regularly.

Cycle Toronto, a biking advocacy group, is urging its members to contact their councillors and the works committee to push for the extensions to Parliament.

Kolb said there are plans to replace some of the flexi-posts with planter boxes that will beautify the streets later this summer.

The city's report shows car travel times have generally improved at the same time the number of cyclists using the streets has grown.

It says that, "The city's traffic management centre has improved communication with traffic signals along these corridors, which likely has helped achieve better traffic signal coordination."

Better enforcement of no-stopping and no-parking rules also likely helped.

One exception - the afternoon rush along Adelaide St., which shows a 12 per cent increase in car travel times - could be the result of a couple of very slow commutes in February. An online survey showed that, of 8,442 people who bike, 94 per cent "strongly agree" the new lanes should be made permanent.

Among 1,424 survey respondents who don't bike, 52 per cent strongly agreed the lanes should stay. Twenty-five per cent strongly disagreed.