Sarah Thomson’s Bike Policy
September 10, 2010
Safer Arterial Roads & Safer Downtown
My primary goal is to make cycling safer for cyclists and less nervewracking for drivers. There are too many near misses every day. With the launch of Bixi in Toronto, we’re going to have more bikes than ever on our roads, and we have to reduce the hazards for both cyclists and drivers.
• All arterial intersections will have bike boxes for making safe twopart left turns (“hook turns”), with intuitive, consistent road markings.
• Inroad markings will indicate the safe path for bicycles, away from the righthand side
• of rightturning vehicles
• Every street in Toronto (except expressways) must be a bikefriendly street, including arterials
• Onroad sharedlane markings (“sharrows”) on all arterial roads by 2012
• Indicate safest, most visible position for cyclists
• Instructs motorists to let cyclists ride there
• A maximum speed limit of 50 km/h throughout Toronto (except expressways)
Downtown Bike Lanes
Complete the downtown portion of the Toronto Bike Plan by 2012
• Represents 13 km of new bike lanes
• One modification: Spadina bike lane moved to University Avenue instead.
Physically Separated Lanes
• Physically separated bike lanes on Richmond Street, Adelaide Street, and University Avenue.
• 9 km in total
• “Bike Highways” across the downtown area
Bicycle stores will be required to hand out city issued brochures on cycling laws and safe cycling practices. Brochures will alert cyclists to the CANBIKE training courses, and the Toronto Police's online bicycle registration service. Similar to the existing Toronto Cycling Map.
Attract new riders
Cycling is a great, fun way to improve health and fitness. A 15minute ride to work or the nearest subway station means 2½ hours of exercise a week, and fewer cars on our roads. Mixedmode bicycle–subway commuting needs to be a realistic possibility for riders of all experience levels, even the ones who don't feel comfortable on arterial roads. Unfortunately, it's not usually possible to get to the nearest subway station using nonarterial roads in Toronto. Often, it's not even possible to get from one neighbourhood to the next. So I will make it possible.
A Network of Secondary Roads
• km of on road bike routes, connecting every part of every neighbourhood
• New crossings built over/under obstacles
• Routes built for safe, convenient cycling
• (“Bicycle boulevards”)
• Routes chosen for convenient crossing of main roads and obstacles
Crossing the Obstacles
• 34 new pedestrian/bike crossings
• 4 freeway underpasses (427, 400, 2 × 401)
• 25 rail crossings (10 underpass, 15 level)
• 5 bridges (Humber, Highland Creek, 2 × Black
• Creek, Newmarket Rail Sub)
• 225 new bike activated traffic lights
• New easements through parking lots and commercial driveways
Safety & Convenience
• Low traffic volumes and speeds
• Yield signs in preference to stop signs
• Bike activated signalized crossings across arterial roads
• Lights synchronized where possible
• Contraflow bike lanes on oneway streets
• Onroad navigation markings
• Snow removal and priority road maintenance
• 40 km of trails through utility corridors
• New routes through government owned lands
• Connections between the York Beltline, the Kay Gardiner Beltline, and the Don Valley Trail
• An easier way over the escarpment via improvements to Roy croft Park
My plan is called Bike City, but I could also call it “Walk City” because this will make it easier to walk from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, reconnecting neighbourhoods that were split by highways or rail lines.
Ending the War on Cars, Ending the War on Bikes
Most of the cycling discourse in Toronto is about bike lanes. And yet, there's been very little progress. Animosity between drivers and cyclists couldn’t be higher than it is right now. This is hurting Toronto. We need to end the road wars.
Right now, politicians score points by proposing new bike lanes that aren't part of the Bike Plan, like Jarvis, University, or Bloor West. The result is a haphazard and overly politicized approach to bike lane. So, drivers perceive this as a War on Cars. Meanwhile, preplanned bike lanes (like Richmond & Adelaide) remain uncompleted
I will get Council to agree to a 4¬year plan upfront. After that, there should be no more discussion in Council. Everything will be handled by Public Works, with no political interference.
Lack of Consensus
The Toronto Bike Plan insists on a further 375 km of suburban bike lanes by 2012. But it can be hard to get support for suburban bike lanes, due to lack of space, lack of cyclists, or local opposition. The result is that we’re getting bike lanes that are narrower than the safe minimums, e.g. Royal York and Davenport. Substandard bike lanes don't help anyone.
My plan will include bike lanes only on streets where there is a sufficient volume of cyclists to justify it. These are the places that are most likely to get consensus for bike lanes. Right now, that means bike lanes downtown, but not outside of downtown. Bike lanes must meet minimum safe widths. If we don't have consensus for a standardwidth bike lane, we don't have consensus for a bike lane.
Bike lane tunnel vision
The majority of accidents occur at intersections, not along straight sections of road where you would put a bike lane. Many cyclists don't feel comfortable riding on arterial roads, even if there is a bike lane. Those cyclists need to get to work too, and we should make sure they can. Bike lanes, in the absence of other improvements, can even increase the rate of accidents by guiding naïve cyclists to the right-hand side of turning cars.
We mustn't forget that there are other ways to improve cycling and boost ridership. I will concentrate on building sharrows, speed limits, upgraded arterial intersections, and a network of secondary roads. These are the quick wins. They will have a greater overall benefit to cycling in Toronto than bike lanes would, and they can be implemented within 4 years with little political opposition.
Bike City will greatly increase the number of cyclists in Toronto in the next 4 years. Going forward, we can build more bike lanes on arterial roads when the volume of cyclists justifies it.
Part 4: Costing
Bike City Costing
• $45 million for traffic lights
• $17 million for rail underpasses
• $12 million for freeway crossings
• $15 million for trails
• $5 million for curb painting
• $5 million for easements, level crossings, bridges
• $2 million for physically separated bike lanes
• Total: $101 million
Council has already approved $101 milliontowards completion of the current bike plan.
My plan is no more expensive, but it is better value for money. The existing plan would spend $30 million just to paint lines on roads. I'm going to build bridges.
 News Release, Dec 8, 2009, City of Toronto
 2010 – 2019 Executive Committee Recommended Capital Budget, City of Toronto
Part 5: My Promise
“I am Sarah Thomson, and I will make Toronto the greatest cycling city in North America.”