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A Compelling Case for Protected Bike Lanes

A pilot project of cycle tracks on several streets in Toronto produced almost shockingly positive results for all users of the street. At very little cost, the new bike infrastructure increased total street capacity and improved safety.
January 17, 2019, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Toronto Bike Infrastructure
The Adelaide Street cycle track in Toronto, pictured in 2015.
Herb van den Dool

A report by the city of Toronto to evaluate the performance of cycle tracks on Richmond Street and Adelaide Street, as well as north-south cycle tracks on Simcoe Street and Peter Street, recommends converting the temporary installations to permanent infrastructure facilities.

The report "tells a commuting story of roaring success that was accomplished with little fanfare and even less cost," according to an article by Edward Keenan. According to the report, 730 people biked on Richmond and Adelaide streets before the temporary cycle tracks were installed in 2014. In 2018, that number had increased to 7,509 people biking on the streets every day.

"The city also monitored bike traffic on nearby streets to see if the change was a result of people taking the new lanes instead of travelling on King or Queen Sts," adds Keenan. "It found the decreases in cycle traffic on those roads was minimal, 'suggesting that 94 per cent of the growth in the number of cyclists on Richmond-Adelaide was as a result of new cyclists, shifting their transportation choice from another mode.'"

One final piece of smashing success to note here: "In the downtown core area, the bike lanes now carry almost a third of the vehicles travelling the road during the peak of rush hour, 'a higher volume of vehicles per lane than the motor vehicle lanes.'"

Additional data on improved safety and a lack of impact on trip times for cars are included in the article.

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Published on Friday, January 11, 2019 in Toronto Star
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