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Friday Fun: The Future Of Toronto 16

Great Toronto Bike Infrastructure

Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

Toronto City Council voted this week to rip out 3 existing bike lanes in the city – an unprecedented measure that may compromise Toronto’s world renown designation as “the best place to ride a bicycle in Toronto”.

In return for the removal of the bike lanes, City Council promised a new network of separated bike lanes (most of which will exist on routes that already have bike lanes).

City Councillors who are leading the new project have committed to building the new separated bike network within 10 decades in the hopes that the infrastructure will increase Toronto’s chances of winning its bid for the 2108 Olympic Summer Games.

While the new separated bike network is slated to take 10 decades to complete, the local Councillor who is leading the development of the separated infrastructure, Denzil Minnan-Wong, snuck in a last minute amendment to remove all existing bike lanes in the city within 5 days in an effort to reduce congestion in the city.

When asked about his last minute amendment, the Councillor responded:

“When it comes to bicycle infrastructure, we are spending almost double what the last administration spent”.

When a reporter replied that this money is being spent to *remove* bicycle infrastructure and not to *build* bicycle infrastructure, the local Councillor responded:

“Did I already tell you that we are spending double what the last mayor spent on bicycle infrastructure?”

A local Councillor who lobbied to have two bike lanes removed in her suburban ward chimed in with an explanation as to why removing bike lanes makes the city more liveable:

“I used to live downtown. I used to walk on my own two feet. It was great! But then I moved to the suburbs and I haven’t walked since. Things are different out here. Bike lanes just aren’t a good fit here because we are forced to use our cars”.

A reporter asked the Councillor if she was taking any meds; particularly the hallucinatory type, but Councillor Michelle Berardinetti didn’t find the question appropriate and told the reporter to “go bike himself”, whatever that meant.

With Toronto’s bicycle infrastructure being torn out, we thought it would be appropriate to showcase Toronto’s existing separated bike lanes so that one day our grandchildren’s children can look at how great their grandparent’s parents once had it.

This particular separated bike lane allows bicycles to go around a street planter, safely away from the motor vehicles. Signage instructs parked cars to leave enough room for cyclists to enter this separated bike lane:

Great Toronto Bike Infrastructure

Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

Oddly, nobody actually uses this great separated bike lane. I on the other hand counted myself doing 15 circles around this street planter in an attempt to showcase this great infrastructure to other passing cyclists.

Unfortunately, I got dizzy and had to vomit on this bike lane. So if you’re passing through this area, make sure you watch out for the curry chicken and Cheerios splattered on the middle of the bike lane (not the Honey Nut Cheerios on the sidewalk, that was from a drunk person the night before):

Great Toronto Bike Infrastructure

Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

This next separated bike lane is Toronto’s only curb separated bike lane. After 18 years of studies, this separated route was implemented using a combination of curbs and bollards to keep cyclists safe from motor vehicles.

The design was borrowed from Montreal, though most Torontonians say this lane puts Montreal’s curb-separated bike lanes to shame:

Great Toronto Bike Infrastructure

Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

Our next separated bike lane was no doubt designed with cyclists in mind. A strong barrier was implemented to protect cyclists from the dangers of motor vehicles which frequently drive more than 70km/h on this stretch of Fort York Boulevard.

In fact, the engineers constructed 10 meter high pillars to help protect cyclists from Panzer tanks and Aliens:

Great Toronto Bike Infrastructure

Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

The cyclist below was spotted using these safety lanes. Not a single motor vehicle came anywhere near this cyclist while I took the photo.

In fact, it wasn’t until after the separated bike lane ended that this particular cyclist was brushed by a man in a BMW whose poor family was sadly waiting for him to come home for dinner due to the congestion caused by this cyclist:

Great Toronto Bike Infrastructure

Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

Below you can see where these safety lanes end and once again merge with motor vehicles. This particular bike lane was first conceived after World War 2 by the Toronto Cyclists Union. After 60 years of lobbying by the Cyclists Union, Toronto City Council finally caved in and gave cyclists this 50 meter stretch of separated bicycle infrastructure:

Great Toronto Bike Infrastructure

Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

There are plenty of other examples of amazing bike infrastructure in Toronto, but now that City Hall is ripping it all out this article may become nothing more than a page in Toronto’s historical archive.

Note: No bike lanes were harmed in the making of this article. We left that for our City Council to handle.

Don’t worry, The Urban Country is not becoming a bicycle-themed version of The Onion. We will resume our regular non-satirical writing next week. Smile

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  • Paddyanne

    Are the cyclists planning some sort of demonstration, to show their frustration? Sort of a Bike-In, like the old Sit-In of the 60′s? This is really a stupid move on Toronto’s part.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      While much of the article is satire, City Council did in fact vote to remove 3 bike lanes from the city. There will be plenty of protesting to ensure the city keeps on track with its plan to build new separated infrastructure. At the very least, cyclists made a small victory in that we delayed the removal of the Jarvis street bike lanes until the parallel street (Sherbourne) has been resurfaced and separated infrastructure added.

      We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but the future certainly isn’t as gloomy as my satirical article implies :-)

      • debra

        “…small victory…delayed removal of Jarvis…”

        Wish that was true, James. It was certainly the intent of Kristin Wong-Tam’s original cascading motion (7 a/b/c). But Minnan-Wong’s amendment to “co-ordinate” the two projects DOES NOT guarantee that Jarvis stays until Sherbourne is completed. If the Sherbourne lanes are delayed or outright cancelled (um, maybe by budget cuts??), the Jarvis lanes still come out and the 5th driving lane goes back in “as soon as possible.”

        Re-read Minnan-Wong’s amendment (10c) to Wong-Tam’s original motion (7b). It’s genius – it removes the guarantee, and also makes her motion 7c (for community consultation) redundant, so his supporters didn’t even have to be caught voting against community consultation.

        And all this time he’s waving his Cycling Union card – and laughing at us.

  • Paddyanne

    Are the cyclists planning some sort of demonstration, to show their frustration? Sort of a Bike-In, like the old Sit-In of the 60′s? This is really a stupid move on Toronto’s part.

  • John__Henry

    Haha good stuff, James. I have seen all these “lanes” The most recent one on Wellington just last night. I love how the one under the Gardiner is a total death trap literally. Those motorists going 70+ get a nice bicycle surprise when someone comes from around the pillar.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      I just wish those Fort York lanes actually went somewhere. They end up at Bathurst street, which is just a brutal street to ride on.

  • John__Henry

    Haha good stuff, James. I have seen all these “lanes” The most recent one on Wellington just last night. I love how the one under the Gardiner is a total death trap literally. Those motorists going 70+ get a nice bicycle surprise when someone comes from around the pillar.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    While much of the article is satire, City Council did in fact vote to remove 3 bike lanes from the city. There will be plenty of protesting to ensure the city keeps on track with its plan to build new separated infrastructure. At the very least, cyclists made a small victory in that we delayed the removal of the Jarvis street bike lanes until the parallel street (Sherbourne) has been resurfaced and separated infrastructure added.

    We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but the future certainly isn’t as gloomy as my satirical article implies :-)

  • JenHendriks

    Good satire. Well written comedy :)

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Thanks Jen. I mean, what else am I going to do at 3AM when the baby won’t sleep except write comedy to maintain my sanity ;)

  • JenH

    Good satire. Well written comedy :)

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Thanks Jen. I mean, what else am I going to do at 3AM when the baby won’t sleep except write comedy to maintain my sanity ;)

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    I just wish those Fort York lanes actually went somewhere. They end up at Bathurst street, which is just a brutal street to ride on.

  • debra

    “…small victory…delayed removal of Jarvis…”

    Wish that was true, James. It was certainly the intent of Kristin Wong-Tam’s original cascading motion (7 a/b/c). But Minnan-Wong’s amendment to “co-ordinate” the two projects DOES NOT guarantee that Jarvis stays until Sherbourne is completed. If the Sherbourne lanes are delayed or outright cancelled (um, maybe by budget cuts??), the Jarvis lanes still come out and the 5th driving lane goes back in “as soon as possible.”

    Re-read Minnan-Wong’s amendment (10c) to Wong-Tam’s original motion (7b). It’s genius – it removes the guarantee, and also makes her motion 7c (for community consultation) redundant, so his supporters didn’t even have to be caught voting against community consultation.

    And all this time he’s waving his Cycling Union card – and laughing at us.

  • Hamilton Fella’

    Glad I found your blog. Fun article. Haven’t had the Toronto experience yet – but by your photos and what I’ve been reading coming from your mayor it sounds and looks interesting.

  • Hamilton Fella’

    Glad I found your blog. Fun article. Haven’t had the Toronto experience yet – but by your photos and what I’ve been reading coming from your mayor it sounds and looks interesting.