Friday, May 26, 2006

Bicycles? No, Thanks? (Letter to The Star)

Bloor St. makeover excludes cyclists - May 26, 2006.
The Bloor St. makeover scheme, while laudable in some ways, is a gross insult to cyclists. There's a dire need for safe east-west bike travel on city streets, yet the city is consistently failing to share our public space well enough for cyclists and address pressing problems like climate change, smog, rising energy prices, peak oil and obesity. Bloor St. is direct, flat and long. The subway beside it offers great access and has also taken away any streetcar tracks which could impede rearranging traffic lanes. For a measly 1 per cent of the total cost of wasting perfectly good wide sidewalks, 8 kilometres of bike lane could be painted onto the street from Sherbourne St. to High Park. Even the $1 million the city has somehow managed to find for the project while claiming poverty and raising taxes, would bring us a real cycling asset. If we in Toronto ever wish to start to make progress on the largely obliterated Toronto Target or our ever-increasing smog problem, we need to provide safety for cyclists. - Hamish Wilson, Toronto - (Original article in the comments) More

1 comment:

Tino said...

Bloor St. makeover set to start in spring
City to advance $20M for beauty treatment
Businesses to repay loan over 20 years
May 25, 2006. 01:00 AM

The Bloor Street Transformation project, a plan kicking around since 1998, is set to start next spring.
A major reason for the delay was the time taken to figure out how to pay for the estimated $25 million project, which calls for widened granite sidewalks, raised planters, special street lighting, shrubbery and public art.
The goal has always been to make the strip of Bloor between Church St. and Avenue Rd. — considered the city's most important shopping district — a magnet like Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. But the city has a hard time coming up with funds for big infrastructure projects, and businesses on the strip feel they're up to their limit paying about $100 million a year in taxes.
In an "innovative'' payment scheme, the city now plans to advance the money through a $20 million loan, including interest. The funds are to be repaid over a 20-year period, mostly through a levy paid by businesses on Bloor St. and immediately adjacent.
A new business improvement association is being formed for those businesses, one that will work with the existing BIA that encompasses all of Bloor-Yorkville. That BIA will also contribute to the payments, and an additional $5 million will come from fees developers pay for area projects.
The city has set aside $1 million from its capital budget for the drawings and a study to be done on the street, work that will provide a better sense of what the transformation will cost, Councillor Kyle Rae said at a news conference yesterday also attended by Mayor David Miller and Gordon Dreger, chair of the Bloor-Yorkville BIA.
The additional funds from the city will be approved in coming years, said Rae (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale).
"From the city's perspective this (project) is an important precedent,'' Miller said. "It shows that the BIA can come together, can be innovative, (that) the city is innovative in the use of public funds and we're able to create partnerships with private businesses to city build.''
Dreger said major property owners like Cadillac Fairview and Brookfield have made a "major leap of faith'' to work with the city on the project.
"Bloor St. renovated, restored and enhanced will be a better place for them to do business,'' he said, adding shoppers and pedestrians will also benefit.