The on-again, off-again proposal for bike lanes on Bloor St. is on again, at least for the next few days.
Council voted in July 2011 to halt an environmental assessment that was studying the possible impact of creating lanes on one of the city’s major streets. But city officials have now brought the issue back to the table, recommending that council allow a smaller Bloor assessment to be done at the same time as an assessment of proposed lanes on parallel Dupont St.
The recommendation comes four months after six Bloor-area councillors — Ana Bailao, Gord Perks, Adam Vaughan, Pam McConnell, Kristyn Wong-Tam, and Mike Layton — formally requested the resumption of the Bloor assessment.
The proposal will be considered by the public works committee on Monday and possibly by council next month. The Bloor debate, contentious even during the tenure of former mayor David Miller, may be especially heated under Rob Ford, who vowed to end the “war on the car.”
Perks said he is “ecstatic” that the assessment may proceed. But committee chair Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a Ford ally, opposes bike lanes on Bloor, and he would not express a position on the $250,000 assessment.
“I believe that Bloor St. is an important east-west corridor and that we should find alternative routes for cyclists. That’s an important route for vehicular traffic,” Minnan-Wong said.
Jared Kolb, executive director of the advocacy group Cycle Toronto, said Bloor is an ideal candidate to fill what he calls “a gap within the network for a great east-west cycling corridor, in the west end of the city especially.”
“We’ve got a lot of problems with King and Queen, College and Dundas, in that they all have streetcar tracks,” Kolb said. “So Bloor opens up a really great possibility, and I think it’s a really natural place to be able to add cycling infrastructure.”
The aborted assessment, which began in 2010, covered a 24-kilometre area from Kipling Ave. in the west to Kingston Rd. in the east. The new assessment would look at a significantly smaller area, from Keele St. in the west to the Prince Edward Viaduct over the Don Valley.
“A bicycle facility in the Bloor-Danforth corridor could be one of the most significant bicycle routes in the city, due to the location and length of the corridor,” city transportation officials said in the report. “Conversely, providing bicycle lanes or cycle tracks could also have a substantial impact on auto mobility, on-street parking and commercial loading/deliveries.”
No bike lanes will appear on Bloor any time soon. Public consultation on the joint Bloor-Dupont assessment would not begin until the third quarter of next year.
The solo Dupont assessment was supposed to start later this year, Kolb said.