Spring has set in across Ward 10 and many of you have been reminded about the bike lanes you have asked me to deal with. I want to thank people for their patience as I’ve worked to create the necessary conditions to make the improvements the large majority of my constituents want. This May and June we will complete the work in our communities to come up with a new plan for some of the lanes in the Ward with the intent of bringing that plan to council this fall.
All of the Ward 10 bike lanes were installed before the most recent civic election. Since the election, Council has changed the following:
Focused future bike lane installation on high quality, separated from traffic lanes in higher density neighbourhoods in the city’s core. These facilities are currently being planned and were approved in our 2015 -18 Capital Budget.
Committed that future lanes and the routes that they may take through communities will be planned with extensive community consultation and will likely achieve much higher buy-in as a result.
Begun developing performance standards, including clear measures and targets for existing and future bike lanes ridership.
We now have two funding sources which we can use to move or separate on street lanes from traffic when they are not performing to these standards and where community opposition remains strong.
Learning from our mistakes
It’s been clear to me, even since before the start of my term, that the current bike lanes in Ward 10 have significant problems, mainly that they create regular conflicts between cyclists, cars and ETS buses . People generally support a bike network; but the process to determine which kinds of lanes and the routes they took left many residents feeling that their voices weren’t heard, and resulted in lanes that didn’t work for cyclists, bus drivers and motorists alike. The city recognizes this.
That’s why my Council colleagues and I set aside $20 million in the 2015-18 Capital Budget for the improvement of sidewalks, curb cuts for strollers, wheelchairs and walkers and for the possible replacement of bike lanes that aren’t working. But as part and parcel of this replacement process, we need to have a new conversation.
Building better separated lanes - with your ideas
So now that the policy and funding issues are sorted out, we can get to work moving some of the lanes in Ward 10, beginning with a fulsome and expeditious community engagement process on how best to move the lanes from the roadway and replace them in a more desirable way.
The process for the 40th Avenue and 106 Street Bike Lanes will begin in May with a community advisory committee forming to help design and promote the consultation process which will occur the following month. In the first week of June we will host a community-wide workshop, launch an online survey, and throughout June hold focus groups to gather information from residents around the bike corridor and how to change it for the better. Early autumn of this year will have us reviewing the feedback gathered during the summer, with a new plan to go before Council by this October or November.
We need to maintain a network
I know many of you just want them plain gone, but we need to maintain a network of cycle infrastructure somehow. We need to do so, as the renowned cycle transportation planner Gils Penalosa suggests, in a way that encourages people from the ages of 8 to 80 years old to use bike lanes safely and comfortably. If we do this, our bike ridership will flourish. He is a strong advocate of separating bikes from cars.
Do you remember what your city looked like when you were a kid? Not just what buildings were different or the size of the city - but what your impression of the urban environment was when you were 8 years old? Did you feel safe? Did you feel like an explorer?
Do you ever wonder how you will experience the city when you are 80 years old? I often think about how I will see things differently - how I will use transit and other amenities, and what the obstacles will be.
Lanes for 8 years olds, 80 year olds, and everyone in between
There’s an organization based in Toronto, run by Mr. Penalosa, that considered these questions. Its called 8-80 Cities. The premise is that if we design our cities to meet the needs of 8 year olds and 80 year olds, we will design places that are accessible for everyone. 8-80 Cities value sustainable happiness and human interaction - creating infrastructure that allows people to use multiple modes of transportation safely and effectively.
This 8-80 strategy is especially relevant in the conversation around bike lanes. Leading bike planners around the world agree that the best way to design accessible bike lanes is to create lanes that are separated from traffic.
Involving new and experienced voices in the conversation around bike lanes will ensure that we make the lanes accessible and community buy in is achieved. Bike infrastructure is an important part of developing a city that can move people effectively from place to place. I look forward to engaging with constituents both young and old to learn how they experience the city, and how bike lanes can add to that experience.