Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Cyclists

Cycling Infrastructure, Maintenance, & Stalled Implementation of 2008 & 2009 Approved Bike Lanes

4 December, 2009 - 15:40 — yvonne
Below is a letter that I sent to the General Manager of Transportation Services in mid November.
November 16, 2009
City of Toronto
Transportation Services
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. W Floor 23E Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Attn: Gary Welsh, General Manager - Transportation Services
RE: Cycling Infrastructure, Maintenance, & Stalled Implementation of 2008 & 2009 Approved Bike Lanes
Mr. Welsh,
I am writing to express my deep concern about the state of cycling infrastructure in Toronto, and in particular, about the very limited number of kms of on-street bike lanes that have been installed this year, despite the many kms of bike lanes & contraflow bike lanes that have been approved both this year, and last.
Of the 52.8kms of bike lane projects approved in 2008, only 34.9kms have actually been installed by November 16, 2009. And of the paltry 16.2kms of bike lane and contra-flow bike lane projects approved in 2009, a small fraction of only 0.7kms** has actually been installed. It also appears that none of the proposed 5.3kms of sharrow treatments have been implemented. (** numbers have changed modestly since this letter was written)
While I understand that the municipal strike and federal stimulus projects have been setbacks for staff, neither I nor the members I represent understand, given the very pressing needs of our city’s tax paying cyclists, why your department has not prioritized the implementation of this long overdue cycling infrastructure.
Considering that 2010 will be an election year, and we all know what that means…, what is your department’s plan for not only getting these approved treatments applied, but also, for moving forward with the approval of additional lanes next year? How do you intend to meet the 2012 deadline for completion of the Bike Plan / Bikeway Network? Can we expect to see the lanes mentioned above scuttled until 2011 due to the election?
I understand that the much anticipated arrival of our Public Bike Share program in Summer 2010 will force the cycling department to focus infrastructure enhancements in the downtown core where the program will be rolled out, and that at least initially, the focus will be on the upgrading of existing bike lanes. While I agree that these upgrades are important, I also believe it is essential to add far more on- street bike lanes than are currently envisioned in the Bike Plan. What additional infrastructure is being planned to accommodate the abundant number of existing cyclists in the core, as well as all the new cyclists that will use the public bike program?
While there is some Communication about cycling done by Transportation through Bike Month, and Bike Winter, I am also concerned that not enough thought has been given, or funds allocated, to much needed public education campaigns targeted to ALL road users about road sharing, and our shared responsibilities. We know the power of marketing and communication to affect behavioural change, and yet these seem to have been completely overlooked in the budgeting for the implementation of the Bike Plan. I strongly believe that infrastructure and public education must go hand in hand if we are to successfully incorporate bicycles into our transportation network.
Additionally, while it is heartening to see more bike lanes going in every year, it quite dangerous, and a source of endless frustration for cyclists across the city, to see these lanes serving all too frequently as road-side stopping/parking for cars, delivery trucks and city works vehicles, rather than as dedicated space intended for the safe passage of cyclists. I would like to ask for your support at the November 19th Toronto Police Services Board meeting, and beyond, where I will give a deputation asking that the fine for parking in a bike lane be doubled to $120, and that parking enforcement be instructed to prioritize enforcement/ticketing of vehicles stopped illegally in bike lanes.
Finally, given the yearly increase in the number of Torontonians cycling year-round, and the encouragement that seems to come from the cycling department to ride all winter through the ‘Bike Winter’ program and ‘Coldest Day of the Year’ ride, I would like to know if Transportation Services will be helping to keep cyclists safe on the road this winter by clearing snow out of bike lanes (rather than using them to store snow), and off of paths across the city? The winter snow clearing pilot done along a portion of the Martin Goodman Trail in 08/09 was well received by all the trail users, pedestrians and cyclists alike – will this maintenance be repeated and extended during the winter 09/10 season?
On behalf of all members & supporters of the Toronto Cyclists Union, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to review and consider the concerns and questions expressed above, and for the work you and your cycling team do on our behalf.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Yvonne Bambrick Executive Director, Toronto Cyclists Union
@ Centre for Social Innovation
215 Spadina Ave. Suite 400
Toronto, ON M5T 2C7


velomos said...

Do not forget to post a reply. This is interesting.

Tino said...

I certainly will if there is one ...