If Mayor Tory gets his way, Toronto's Bloor bike lane pilot project will be here to stay.
The municipal leader announced Wednesday that he is in favour of the lanes' continued existence after reviewing a city report that demonstrates both their positive effects on the biker experience and their negligible economic impact. He urged city councillors to vote for the lanes to become a permanent fixture on the key roadway.
Rider statistics indicate that cycling along Bloor from Avenue Road to Shaw Street—one of the most prominent east-west stretches in the city—increased by 56 per cent since the implementation of the lanes, which averaged 5,220 cyclists on typical weekday. They also affected cyclist safety, with far fewer "near-miss" collisions between cars and bikes being reported.
Meanwhile, data gathered from Moneris Solutions Corp. surprisingly showed an increase in sales on that stretch of Bloor compared to other parts of the arterial street. Any reductions in consumption was "on-trend with other parts of the city."
"To me, all of these data points, weighed together, indicate that the Bloor bike lanes have had a positive impact," said Tory.
While the mayor is no doubt pleased with the effect the lanes has had, he also knows that they are far from perfect. Wednesday morning he tweeted, "Report identifies number of modifications that can be made to Bloor Bike Lanes including signal timing, road design & curb side access to improve experience for drivers & businesses. We will make those changes."
Even those changes are unlikely to be enough for opponents of the lanes. They will continue to bring up arguments about dangers for parked drivers and passengers exiting cars, reduced storefront parking spaces, side streets being just as effective, bike lanes being underused in winter, and much more.
But it's clear that there has been a positive impact in many regards, and it's now up to the city councillors to decide whether or not that is worth a permanent authorization.