Monday, November 30, 2009

Toronto Star Editorial

Published On Mon Nov 30 2009 - Of Bikes and the City

Amsterdam is known as "The Bike City," but Toronto remains a long way from earning any such designation. The evidence for that is painfully apparent, from city hall to the city's streets.

City hall recently spent $10,000 on an in-house program that involved buying 10 high-end Dutch bicycles for environmentally conscious municipal workers to use during the day instead of a car. The program was launched in June, but the bikes have been used by city employees just 28 times since then. This from a city workforce large enough to represent Canada's sixth largest government.

Perhaps there would be better uptake for the program if there were more safe places to ride. But Toronto has been disappointingly slow in following its own bike-lane plan. That strategy originally called for creating 500 kilometres of on-street bike lanes by 2011. With less than half that amount completed, the deadline has now been pushed back to 2012.

And even where bike lanes are already established, the cycling community doesn't appear to get much respect. A rival newspaper recently found a police cruiser illegally parked in an Annette St. bike lane. When even those obliged to enforce the law feel free to ignore a rule designed to accommodate cyclists, it becomes obvious that a cycling culture has yet to take root here.

Toronto's bike plan directs the municipality to "shift gears toward a more bicycle friendly city." Unfortunately, some key spokes appear to be missing. (Note: Meanwhile, Montreals' Bixi program appears to be a big success. Go figure.


Anonymous said...

Wasted opportunity. The article should have mentioned the progress happening in Montreal, New York, Chicago...

Anonymous said...

It's true that the program has not really caught on.

One thing to keep in mind though was that all 10 bikes were at City hall. The bulk of municipal workers do not work out of this location.

Also, as a city worker who rides I know there are a ton of people who ride at City hall, but we all have our own bikes. I ride every day, but haven't used the bike-share because I always have my own bike on site.

jamesmallon said...

Just as stupid as the bike racks on buses in Toronto, and Mississauga. Anyone use this? For novelty doesn't count. I can ride faster than any surface transit, and so can you. Why would we pay $2.75 to go slower and less reliably?

Just get the cops to enforce traffic laws in this city. Better yet, fine/charge people in proportion to the danger they cause: drivers pay 100x as much as cyclists.