Bike Lanes

If Toronto is going to address traffic congestion and transit, we need to have other ways for people to move around the city easily and safely.

Halfway through this year, the same number of cyclists have already been killed by motorists - four - as were in all of 2017. Cycling is not a blood sport, yet you need a warrior's bravery to travel on many of our streets. The danger hotspots in our ward are on Coxwell and on Kingston Road. You shouldn't need a warrior's bravery to climb on a bike so as to travel on many of our streets. 

Because of easy access to downtown bike lanes, I have started riding a bike again. I haven't ridden in twenty years but the joy of scooting between City Hall, Metro Hall, the universities and other places where I would walk, if I had the time, lured me back. Separated bike lanes did that.

As we become a dense urban environment, we need to lure people away from the convenience of cars. We need to ensure our cycling infrastructure appeals to people like me, a fifty-something year old woman.

This means having separated, connected bike lanes. This means providing easy access to bikes, such as through BikeShare and having safe places to lock our own bikes. This means making sure the network can support children on bikes or little ones sitting in cargo bikes (those bikes need a good turning radius!). 

Biking has to be safe, for everyone, to move around in our community. We need a network of separated lanes across #ward19, as per our City's cycling plan and quickly!

Year-round cycling works in other places; it can work here. In Montreal, an estimated 15,000 cyclists a day cycle in winter.

Torontonians had five crashes per 100,000 bike trips, according to a study from the Pembina Institute. In Montreal, with more than 700 kilometres of bike paths, the rate is two per 100,000.  Yet, even in Montreal, with one of the largest cycling networks in North America, there are pitfalls we can learn from. The Pembina reports says,despite the size of their bike path network, there are missing sections which force cyclists back onto unsafe roads. The other warning from Montreal is to avoid its keenness to paint lines on as many kilometers as possible, looking to increase the size without considering issues of safety. Bike lanes need to have barriers, not simply lines on the road. Most roads in Toronto lack the critical mass of cyclists needed to create visibility and respect from vehicles.

The sooner we build the Cycling Network Plan, the safer cyclists will be.

Toronto has a plan laid out in the City's 10-year Cycling plan. That is too long to wait. I believe that the Cycling plan should be accelerated. As it exists, as a disconnected network of lanes, we see lower usage and it simply aggravates other road users. We need to make cycling infrastructure the new norm. We need to make this work.

I do recognize the complaints about the Woodbine bike lanes and will work to address some of them. The random parking spaces can be confusing as drivers travel north, zagging and zigging to avoid parked cars that appear to be part of the regular traffic. Yes, perhaps it's "traffic calming," but we also regularly see distracted drivers plow into the back of parked cars. We need to make this simple, and better design can fix it. 

The tension in the question of Danforth bike lanes is whether the street is a destination point or a connecting thoroughfare and what is the balance between that? While I am advocating for a better bike infrastructure, the competing needs of all road users will have to be negotiated. I will ensure the local community will be involved in these developments.

Other residents have raised concerns about traffic diversion onto residential side streets. I would also commit to looking at that with the local community and the City's traffic engineers.

Sadly, for non-athletic bike commuters like myself, I can't do anything about the two (!) hills that cyclists have to climb between Queen St. and the Danforth. Whew!(puff,puff)

 

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Transit

When my children were young and money was very short, I counted out tokens carefully and walked when I could. Later, after I began a good, full-time job by King-Yonge, I left work at 5:00 to pick up my children from childcare. Five overcrowded streetcars passed our stop by. I was becoming frantic as it grew later, wondering if this was a daily pattern, how I would manage.  

Transit is central to whether people can easily access grocery shopping, recreation programs, higher education and employment. The City’s Poverty Reduction Plan recognizes that. We built Transportation in, as Pam McConnell advised us, as one of the five fingers to move people towards prosperity.

Still while our transit system is too expensive for many, it is also sorely underfunded. Overcrowding is the most obvious problem. (Overheated subway cars another.)  

The Downtown Relief Line has been identified as a priority by successive governments. Yet overcrowding continues, now scarily so on some days at Bloor-Yonge. This has been an issue for well over a decade and continues to worsen. We need action now.

I love the convenience of the GO train, yet I need to hear more from transit experts about the technical challenges of essentially converting a full-sized train built for long-distances into a subway able to start and slow more easily. I have been intrigued by the case being put forward by some advocates to add a station to Monarch Park.

I have a favourable approach to LRT as long as it is part of a wider transit network. We have learned that transit stubs are a poor investment and that networks make us stronger.

If elected, I would commit to:

  • full funding of the City's Poverty Reduction Plan, which within the next term, move to lower fares for low-income people 
  • prioritize the Downtown Relief line because it is overdue
  • vote to stop the Scarborough subway because the population density does not support it
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