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Separated downtown bike lanes set to grow

Separated bike lanes in Toronto all set to grow
June 17, 2015
By David Rider

A recommendation to extend separated bike lanes on downtown Richmond and Adelaide Sts. breezed through Toronto’s public works committee.

Councillors gave a unanimous green light to the city staff proposal that will roll into city council for final approval July 7.

Politicians from all parts of the political spectrum, and urban and suburban wards, marveled at and applauded a boom in use of the lanes since the $300,000 pilot project launched a year ago.

“If you build it, they will come,” exulted Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon. “Richmond St. from 504 cyclists per day to 2,144; Adelaide from 544 cyclists per day to 2,301, Simcoe St. from 727 cyclists per day to 1,177 - that is unbelievable, that is so spectacular.”

The additional safety afforded to cyclists behind physical barriers was noted, as were the deaths of three cyclists on city streets in the past two weeks.

The positive evaluation of the separated lanes noted that removing some vehicle lanes has not noticeably slowed vehicle traffic, and in some cases it has sped it up.

The lanes, separated by barriers including flex-posts and planters, were installed eastbound on Adelaide from Bathurst to Simcoe Sts.; westbound on Richmond from York to Bathurst Sts.; and Simcoe St. north-south from Queen to Front Sts.

Council will consider extending the Adelaide and Richmond lanes east to Parliament St. The Simcoe lanes are not set to grow right now, but the committee asked staff to report in September on the feasibility of extending them to Queens Quay, where a busy bike trail is one of the features of the revitalized waterfront.

Councillor Stephen Holyday, a conservative Etobicoke councillor, said “I’m concerned any time we take away (car) lanes, but I believe there is a compelling case here ...

“I will be watching closely the numbers ... to make sure that it is appropriate moving forward, but all indicators at this point in time are that this is a logical way to go.”

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. Cycling advocates say that, if the cycling lanes are permanent, they would expect those gaps to be closed.