Toronto is on the verge of having permanent protected bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide Sts. after a committee voted unanimously Thursday to keep the successful pilot project.
City council will have final say later this month but infrastructure and environment committee members heaped praise on the lanes which have transformed downtown bike commuting and, city data suggests, got many people cycling to and from work for the first time.
Jared Kolb of advocacy group Cycle Toronto heralded the lanes, installed between 2014 and 2016, as “a true game changer … This has changed cycling in Toronto.”
The committee voted to make permanent: Richmond St. E. from Parliament St. to Yonge St.; Richmond St. W. from Yonge to Bathurst St.; Adelaide St. E. from Parliament to Yonge; Adelaide St. W. from Yonge to Bathurst; Simcoe St. from Front St. W. to Queen St. W.; and Peter St. from King St. W. to Queen.
Members also voted, in line with a transportation staff recommendation, to move the Adelaide bike lane from the south side to the north side to minimize disruption from unloading trucks, and to study design changes to improve safety for cyclists who would be on eastbound motorists’ left side.
Moving the lane would cost $315,000. City staff also recommend replacing flexible post barriers with raised concrete barriers like those on Sherbourne St.
Asked to evaluate the bike lanes’ performance as a pilot project, city staff said “outstanding,” noting a tenfold increase in use.
Data from last September pegged the peak number of cyclists per day using Richmond and Adelaide lanes at 6,160 — more people than flow through some TTC stations. In the morning and afternoon rush, more commuters now bike in and out of downtown on the roads than drive them.
While the number of cyclists on the routes have exploded, collisions involving them have plummeted by 73 per cent.
Motorists’ travel times have increased by about 90 seconds across Richmond, but decreased by 30 seconds on Adelaide. Surveys show drivers support not having cyclists in vehicle lanes.
Compared to the $5.2-billion cost of maintaining Toronto roadways including the elevated Gardiner Expressway, Richmond and Adelaide bike lane costs are tiny — $780,000 to install and just under $200,000 per year to sweep and keep free of snow.
David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering Toronto politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider