Surprise! Bike lanes, congestion to stay

Permanent bike lanes on Bloor St. will increase commute times by 36%. Photo: Bigstock

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Toronto city staff today recommended a pilot project to install and evaluate separated bicycle lanes on Bloor St. be made permanent. Bloor St. is one of the city's major east-west arterial streets through the heart of downtown.

It's important to note that Toronto does not do "studies." It does "pilots." A "pilot" is a small implementation intended to help fine tune arrangements before a permanent implementation. I cannot think of an instance where Toronto ever abandoned an idea after piloting it. It's a common political tool – "well, how can you argue against a pilot study to see if it works or not?" proponents will argue. Council will vote for it. The pilot then inevitably becomes permanent.

Observations

Here are some observations on the city's report into the Blood St. Bike Lane Pilot. You can read the study yourself here.

  • The test area on Bloor from Shaw St. to Avenue Rd. = 2.4 km
  • Average car traffic in the test zone has decreased by almost 4,000 cars. (3,888). Some of these cars (1,467) have shifted to Dupont St. — which is residential on the south side. Others (584) have moved to Harbord St. — a street that is a narrow, disjointed residential local street not well-suited to increased volumes.
  • Average speed in the test zone is now:
    • AM Rush Eastbound: 12 km/h (20% increase in travel time)
    • AM Rush Westbound: 19 km/h (6% increase in travel time)
    • PM Rush Eastbound: 12 km/h (8% increase in travel time)
    • PM Rush Westbound: 9.3 km/h (36% increase in travel time)

Key Questions

Where did the other 1,837 cars go?  Have they been absorbed on other residential streets? Which ones? What has the impact been there? Or, did they just abandon all hope of travelling across Toronto?

If traffic congestion is one of the Mayor’s priorities, why would he support anything that increases rush hour travel time by 20-36% – and pushes thousands of cars onto residential streets?

Share Button