A balanced and workable
new transportation plan
for the City of Toronto
Even bike lanes downtown are empty quite often. This bike lane on Gerrard Street East is hardly used even in the summer while the formerly two lanes of traffic is narrowed down to one causing traffic gridlock.
The proliferation of bicycle lanes on major arterial roads by removing traffic lanes should cease. This is not safe and reduces needed road space. Bicycle lanes should be placed along minor and local roads. They can be placed along major roads if traffic lanes are maintained and not removed. College Street is an example where this works well. There are two through traffic lanes and bicycle lanes on either side. Everything runs smoothly. An extensive network of off-road cycle trails as proposed in this plan will reduce the need for bicycle lanes on streets and increase cyclist safety.
New bike lanes on roads would be provided along residential streets only and avoid arterial roads. Exceptions to one-way traffic could apply to such cycle lanes. The selected trail routes would meet with arterial roads at signalized intersections to facilitate safe crossings. Available corridors in ravines and valleys, hydro rights-of-way and the former Eglinton and Scarborough transportation corridors could be used to create a continuous and interconnected bike trail network across the city. Bike lanes would only be approved on arterial roads if they can be added without the removal of traffic lanes, such as slightly narrower traffic lanes to allow for 1 metre (3 feet) bike lanes to be added. A minimum of two traffic lanes in each direction must be maintained on all arterial roads. No traffic lane is to be converted to a bike lane. Separate trails are preferred as they are safer. These new bicycle routes will increase cyclist safety because they will be separated from motorized traffic along some of the most beautiful green routes inToronto. We wish to treat cyclists equally with drivers in our transportation system. Bicycles are considered as vehicles, the same as automobiles, according to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and are therefore subject to the same traffic laws as automobiles. Enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists on roads must be carried in the same manner as for drivers to ensure safety and the reduction of driver/cyclist/pedestrian accidents. Drivers need to be educated to watch out for cyclists when opening car doors into traffic and cyclists need to be educated on their responsibilities with regards to the rules of the road. Winter maintenance is currently not carried out on Toronto's bicycle trails. This will have to be done in future to make sure that the trail network is available year round. All trails will also have to be lit with small street lamps.
We plan to add another 100 kilometres of off-road bicycle routes to the fragemented existing bicycle facility system in Toronto, making it into a continuous network across the entire city.
Bicycle theft is also a big issue in Toronto. The University of Toronto was experiencing a big problem with theft of bicycles from St. George campus. The University adopted a "sting" operation, whereby they equipped a few bicycles with hidden GPS-tracking units, and left the bikes around the campus, as tempting targets for would-be thieves. Apparently the University was successful in catching a number of thieves in this way. Auto-based GPS vehicle theft-tracking systems are well established. Insurance companies and police forces have approved of them, because they help with recovery of stolen vehicles, and with apprehension of thieves. Auto theft is a very big and costly problem, international in scope. It is a major cause of high auto insurance premiums. A remedy to the large bicycle theft problem would have to be done on a Province-wide basis.
The Government of Ontario should offer voluntary bicycle licensing. The Province could possibly partner with the insurance industry, to offer a GPS theft-tracked insurance option with bicycle licences. One challenge with bicycles must be to make the GPS tracking device secure from destruction, removal and/or tampering by a would-be thief. In a longer-term perspective, educating school-age children on safe cycling, and getting them to license their bicycles, would help to curtail the theft problem. More than half of traffic fatalities in Toronto involved pedestrians crossing streets. The construction of the proposed northwest and eastern expressways and arterial road links will increase pedestrian safety by enticing commuters to these new roads and removing much of the through traffic from local streets. It is recommended that the underground PATH system of walkways under downtownToronto be expanded in the north, west and east to provide a pedestrian-exclusive transportation network in the central city. It is also recommended that pedestrian and cycling tunnels be built to connect the Toronto Islands with the mainland across the Western Gap to the Toronto Island Airport and across the Eastern Gap to Ward’s Island. The new extensive network of cycle trails across the city will also provide pedestrians with safe off-road places to walk. All pedestrian street crossings in Toronto should be equipped with ‘zebra’ style pavement markings and with both flashing lights and a warning sound to allow drivers time to stop so that the pedestrian can cross the street safely. These are currently used in Europe. Winter maintenance is currently not carried out on bicycle trails in Toronto. This will have to be done in future to make the trails available for use all year round. All trails will have to be lit with small street lamps for night-time safety. Separate lanes for joggers can be provided for along all bicycle trails also. These routes will form a network of 'bicycle expressways'.
There is no necessity to establish an Immediate, Short Term and Long Term strategy for implementing the bicycle trails system as costs are low for these facilities. It is recommended that construction of this trail system start immediately at any point in the city and continue constantly until the proposed system is finished.
Bicycle transportation must be accommodated in the safest possible way — and without impeding traffic —by providing separate rights-of-way for bicycle commuters and recreational cyclists. In essence, a third transportation corridor needs to be established — the bicycle trail. A grid of north-south and east-west bicycle and in-line skate trails is proposed to cover the entire Toronto area that would link up all of the current discontinuous cycle trails across Toronto into one integrated and continuous network throughout the entire city. This grid would decrease the need for congestion-causing bicycle lanes on busy downtown roads while providing improved access to city destinations by cyclists.
A good bike trail network exists along open corridors such as Hydro utility corridors and next to railway lines. This needs to be extended and made continuous across the City. These are 'bike expressways'.
A new bicycle trail in Scarborough landscaped with new young trees
A bicycle trail with proper markings and a separate lane for joggers
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