TORONTO – Negotiators for the TTC union and the City of Toronto worked two hours past their self-imposed deadline yesterday to avoid a transit strike that would have seen the creation of new bike and carpool lanes.
A plan approved last month by city council called for the curb lane on Bay Street from Queenâ€™s Quay to Yorkville to become a bike-only lane, along with curb lanes on Queenâ€™s Quay from Lower Spadina Avenue to Yonge Street, and Dundas Street East from River Street to Broadview Avenue.
City politicians celebrated the deal, saying they can now go back to claiming that bike lanes are very expensive and take a very long time to establish. “That was really close,” one councilor said. “Just imagine. If we’d created those bike lanes, cyclists might have gotten used to them! Heck, some people might have even tried biking to work in safety for the first time and enjoyed it. It could have been habit forming.” When asked if he was trying to equate cyclists to drug users, the councilor replied, “what do you think?”
Another councilor agreed. “Drivers can rest assured that this council will not do anything to jeopardize their unquestioned supremacy on the roads,” she said.
It is with a healthy mixture of excitement and embarrassment that I announce that today was my first “bike to work” day of the year. Excitement because I love biking around Toronto; embarrassment because it took me this long to get my tires pumped and find the key to my bike lock.
This morning reminded me of what I discovered last summer: that despite all obstacles and barriers, and even when compared to the first way, another way, and the better way, biking really is the best way to get around the city. Unfortunately, it still needs to be even easier and safer before it will enjoy the mass-adoption we need it to.
Let’s be realistic. The population of Toronto is expected to grow by 1,000,000 over the next few years (and that doesn’t even include the number of Green Party voters I’m trying to trick into moving to my riding). Just try and picture a million more cars on the road. No? How about 500,000 more? Ok, try imagining cramming just 10 more people onto a Yonge Street subway at rush hour. Ain’t gonna happen.
I’m not saying there’s no room to improve TTC infrastructure, but I’m doubtful it will happen in time. As for automobiles, Queen Street isn’t going to get any wider. Cycling is a big part of this city’s future. And that’s good news, but we’ve got some work to do before we get there.