Thursday, May 17, 2007

The 'Revitalized' Toronto Cycling Committee

Scarborough councillor heading up revitalized cycling committee
Via Inside Toronto May. 17, 2007

The city's bike plan is still "behind the eight ball" according to the new chair of Toronto's cycling committee who hopes to play a key role in getting that plan back in gear.
"I look at cycling as being an integral part of the transportation network. We're not going to build any new roads, but we can certainly do a lot to our existing roads," said Ward 35 (Scarborough Southwest) Councillor Adrian Heaps, who will head up the revitalized committee.

"We have 27 kilometres (of bikeways) that we'll be putting in for 2007. That'll be happening. It still puts us behind the eight ball, but in 2008 and beyond ... it's going to be far more aggressive," he said.

City councillors were criticized throughout the budget process this year for failing to make significant progress in delivering the cycling infrastructure called for in the 10-year plan.

The proposed network, which is slated for completion in 2012, calls for approximately 1,000 kilometres of bikeways including 495 kilometres of bike lanes; 249 kilometres of off-road bike paths and 260 kilometres of signed routes.

Heaps reported that four new staff members will join transportation services this summer to work on designing and implementing bike lanes and paths across the city.

"It really takes us into a planning stage this year," said Heaps who has a few ideas of his own about ways to encouraging cycling in the city.

"I think one of the biggest deterrents is not wanting to cycle without having facilities. Who wants to cycle without having the ability to change somewhere? So that's the biggest thing," he said. "So we're trying to work on things. We're talking to hotels and fitness clubs about a sort of shower pass ... just trying to get the resisters out of there."

Heaps is also hoping to revive the city's Bike Share program.

"I think there were about 150 bicycles they were using. Basically you could pick up a bike at point A and drop it off at point B ... just like car share and that program died, I don't know why. I'm going to revive it," he said, adding, "I'm trying to set it up with the hotels downtown and use it for tourists. Instead of the concierge sending you to some Spadina bicycle shop, you take a bike from there and you can drop it off at another hotel."

As for the future of the bikeway network, Heaps said he'll do what he can to ensure it keeps moving.

"There is some resistance from certain councillors about bike lanes in their ward and there's two ways we can approach it; one is to spend years and years trying to work with those councillors or we go with the path of least resistance, which is what I'm trying to do now," he said.

Although bike lanes aren't necessary on every route, Heaps noted the idea is to "delineate clearly for people driving on high traffic routes that this is also a route for bicycles as well so you've got to respect it.

"Cyclists don't own the road, but we certainly have a right to be on it. There's probably a bit of unintentional tension that goes on between cyclists and cars; they're as much a part of the transportation network as anyone else," he said.

Heaps, who regularly cycles to city hall, will launch Bike Week 2007 on May 28.

1 comment:

Darren said...

Oh shit. The wind changed in the last 15 minutes. A whole new batch of promises must be forthcoming from City Hall.