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Cycling traffic up 56% on Bloor Street bike lanes, report shows

Last Updated Oct 11, 2017 at 8:44 pm EDT

The Bloor Street bike lanes are one step closer to becoming a permanent fixture.

In a report released on Wednesday, city staff said the year-long pilot project has increased cycle traffic in the area by 56 per cent and made motorists feel more comfortable sharing the road.

The 2.6-kilometre stretch of separated bike lanes on Bloor Steer West between Shaw Street and Avenue Road are making it safer for cyclists to get around the high-traffic area.

The report stated that preliminary indications show collision and conflict (“near-miss” collision) rates have gone down in the area. Before the lane installation, an average of 22 collisions involving cyclists happened each year in the section between Shaw and Avenue.

As well, pedestrians feel safer and more comfortable walking on Bloor Street where the bike lanes have been installed.

Coun. Joe Cressy and Coun. Mike Layton, who championed the project, backed the report’s findings.

“Making our streets safe for all must be a critical priority for us,” the councillors said in a joint statement. “If we want to build a 21st century city – a city that moves people safely – we must make the Bloor bike lane permanent. And the data is clear – bike lanes on Bloor Street work.”

They added that making the streets safe must be a “critical priority” for the city.

“We’ve created an environment where people feel safer – not just cyclists, but motorists and pedestrians,” the statement reads.

“We’ve seen a real decrease in collisions, and we’ve successfully made improvements to vehicle travel time, impacts now reduced by 50 per cent since the first data collection during the pilot.”

The report found that Bloor is now the busiest bike lane in the city after Richmond and Adelaide.

Mayor John Tory said the key reason for this study was to examine the safety of cyclists.

“(The report) shows that the road is safer for cyclists. This was a key reason to examine the impact of safe, separated, bike lanes, as car-bike collisions were numerous,” Tory said.

“People will sense, as a result of some of the data that you’ll find in the report — both car drivers and cyclists — that things are much safer with these bike lanes in place during the pilot project.”

The report found that while traffic times initially increased at the start of the project, with adjustments made to signal timing, increased travel times have been cut in half.

As for businesses, the study found that “most merchants reported an increase in the number of customers, most visitors reported spending more and visiting more frequently, and that vacancy rates are stable.”

And while on-street parking spots have decreased, the report found that lots and street parking off Bloor have allowed for parking revenue generated in the area to remain the same. However, it does acknowledge that sometimes both on-street and off-street parking were at capacity.

“We know there is more work to be done to continue to improve the lanes. Pilot projects allow us to test changes, see what’s working and make improvements,” Cressy and Layton said.

“But by making the bike lanes permanent, we can make improvements that will continue to make this bike lane a resounding success.”

Based on the report, Transportation Services is recommending the lanes become permanent. The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee will consider the report next Wednesday.

“I look forward to seeing the deputations that are made at the committee, to listening to them, to addressing actively the concerns of the people that have been identified, whether it be businesses or cyclists or drivers or pedestrians, and to making improvements to this,” Tory said.

“I also look forward to supporting the main recommendations at council and to supporting the motions that ensure that these changes will be done in a way that benefits businesses, cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.”

City council will vote on the matter next month.

Click here to read the full report.