The Toronto Bike Plan was adopted by City Council in July, 2001 “as the strategic plan for implementing cycling policies, programs and infrastructure improvements over the 10 year period, 2002-2011.” The Toronto Bike Plan recommended a very ambitious 10-year implementation timeframe. However, the 2001 staff report acknowledged that “ultimately, the schedule for implementing the Plan’s recommendations will be subject to available resources as determined by Council’s annual budget review process.” In August, 2005 Transportation Services submitted a report to the Works Committee as part of the 2006 budget review process which documented that the Bike Plan implementation was not keeping pace with the recommended 10-year timeframe. In that report, Transportation Services advised that the following three changes were required to accelerate implementation of the Bike Plan:
· Increase annual capital funding to deliver more bikeway projects;
· Increase staff resources in line with the increased project delivery; and
· Streamline the approval process for bicycle lanes.
All three of these recommended changes were achieved by 2008 resulting in a more effective organizational structure (and reporting and approval process) to deliver cycling infrastructure and programs. At the Bike Plan’s inception the responsibilities for delivering Bike Plan infrastructure and promotions and education programs resided in three Divisions - Transportation Services, City Planning and Parks, Forestry and Recreation. During the 2008 budget review process the cycling promotion and education functions and the relevant staff were transferred from the City Planning Division to Transportation Services (Pedestrian and Cycling Infrastructure Unit).
As part of the 2009 budget review process the responsibility for planning, design and construction of the Bike Plan trail projects was transferred from Parks, Forestry and Recreation to Transportation Services. This transfer has consolidated all capital funding for Bikeway Network projects, both on-street and off-street bikeways, within the Transportation Services capital budget. In addition, Parks, Forestry and Recreation have assumed responsibility for the Can-Bike Program, including the Kid’s Can-Bike Camps, and is incorporating these important programs into their recreation programs. The restructuring was undertaken in 2009 when the Pedestrian and Cycling Infrastructure Unit’s pedestrian functions were transferred to the new Public Realm Section, resulting in a dedicated cycling group, within the Transportation Services Division, whose sole focus is the implementation of the Bike Plan and developing new initiatives.
Another important change in 2007 was the decision by City Council to have all bicycle lane reports considered by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. This change has streamlined the reporting process by enabling staff to group bicycle lanes projects, from different Community Council areas, in a single report to be considered by Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. Reporting to a standing committee with a citywide mandate reinforces the principle that the Bikeway Network is a city-wide program and must be implemented in a coordinated fashion across the city.
There have been a number of developments in the eight years since the Bike Plan was adopted which suggest the original network planning objective (i.e. to achieve a 2 km spacing between bikeways) should be revisited. First, Transportation Services has shifted focus in the past few years to give greater priority to cycling in addition to walking and transit. Most of the recommended bikeways in the downtown area have been completed or will be completed in the next few years. The majority of the on-street bikeways remaining to be completed are in the Etobicoke York, North York and Scarborough districts. The 200 km Transit City program is incorporating bicycle lanes into the redesign of the roadway wherever physically possible, which will result in many kilometers of new bicycle lanes on the Transit City routes.
Completion of the on-street bikeways envisioned in the 2001 Bike Plan would require Transportation Services staff to direct the majority of their effort on bikeway projects in the three suburban districts, where daily cycling activity is the lowest. Alternatively, Transportation Services is launching a new strategic direction for the Bikeway Network over the next three years, to refocus staff efforts and infrastructure investment where cycling activity is highest. The key priorities of this new strategic direction for the Bikeway Network are:
· significantly expand the Bikeway Network in the Toronto East York District, with new bikeways not identified in the Bike Plan, to support the Public Bicycle System;
· conduct pilot projects to implement and evaluate new bikeway design treatments, including: physically separated or buffered bicycle lanes, bike boxes, shared-use lane marking (sharrows), conflict zone markings, time-of-day bicycle lanes and intersection markings, with a goal of more widespread use of special markings and designs; and
· Construct major new trail systems, particularly the 49 km of bikeway trails in the Finch and Gatineau hydro corridors.
In addition to these new priorities, Transportation Services continues to expand the Bikeway Network in all districts. Special emphasis will be put on continuing to close the gaps in the on-street bikeways and the existing off-street trails to achieve continuous, uninterrupted routes.
The newly consolidated cycling infrastructure capital budget was increased substantially in 2009 to accelerate implementation of the bikeway network. Transportation Services is forecasted to spend $69.3 million for cycling infrastructure within the Division’s 5-Year Capital Budget for the years 2009-2013. However, $28.8 million of the total approved budget is dependant on funding from external sources, specifically to construct the 49 km of bikeway trails in the Hydro Corridors. The City of Toronto funding, in the amount of $40.5 million is sufficient to complete the balance of the cycling infrastructure elements of the Bike Plan, including bicycle parking facilities, on-street bikeways and bikeway trails within parks and open space under the City’s jurisdiction.
Transportation Services staff have begun to review new opportunities to significantly expand the bikeway network in the Toronto East York district. Queen’s Park Crescent and University Avenue, between Bloor Street West and Richmond Street West, have emerged as the streets with the most potential to establish physically separated or buffered bicycle lanes serving the downtown. This major north-south route through the core could connect to existing bicycle lanes on Hoskin Avenue, Wellesley Street, College Street and Gerrard Street West. In combination with planned bicycle lanes on Simcoe Street, the Queen’s Park Crescent-University Avenue bikeway would also provide a major new connection to Queen’s Quay and the waterfront Martin Goodman Trail. Data collection program being developed to evaluate progress towards the goal of doubling the number of bicycle trips and reducing the number of bicycle collisions and injuries. The Bike Plan identified four types of data to be collected and analyzed as part of the bicycle data collection program: bicycle traffic counts; focused user surveys; public attitude surveys; and bicycle collision data.
The bicycle data collection program will consist of the following research components:
· analysis of Census Canada and TTS data to monitor bicycle ridership levels and trends at both the city-wide and the census tract level;
· automatic bicycle counters at a number of bikeway network locations to monitor changes in ridership levels during different parts of the day, week, month, and year;
· regular analysis of bicycle collision data every three to four years;
· Toronto Cycling Survey in 2009 and every four years afterward to collect consistent data on bicycle attitudes that can be used for multi-year analysis; and
· Focused research and data collection for broader research purposes, such as for evaluating new bikeway designs and other facilities and programs (bike lockers, bike stations, etc.).
City of Toronto Walking Strategy was approved in 2009, it’s an action plan spanning infrastructure, partnerships and policy projects rolled out over 10 years. The Public Realm Section was set up within the Transportation Services Division with the mandate and responsibility to oversee the Strategy's coordination, implementation and performance tracking.
Importantly, the Public Realm Section was set up within the Transportation Services Division with the mandate and responsibility to oversee the Strategy's coordination, implementation and performance tracking, including recent initiatives such as:
· A multi-sectoral Pedestrian Expert Reference Group to provide input and feedback on the Strategy's implementation and help champion and advance a more walkable, sustainable city. Members are external leaders in urban development, social media, public health, recreation and fitness, environment, transportation engineering, public transit, social equity, and community building.
· A Council-adopted Wayfinding Strategy in 2012 to create a consistent information system for residents, commuters, and tourists to more easily navigate the city's travel options and places – to increase transit use, walking and cycling, and reduce driving time to find destinations or parking (thereby reducing vehicular congestion and related emissions). The strategy is made public for other agencies and municipalities and has informed work by Waterfront Toronto and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.
· New street models such as "flexible streets" and "parklets" to address competing needs for vehicles, deliveries, parking, pedestrians, patio/retail space and street events. New designs create multi-functional street spaces. Sidewalks expand/contract based on the time, day or season using bollards or other means, so space can be used for vehicles (parking/deliveries), economic activity (patios) or bike parking or Bixi (bikesharing) stations. Many internal/external partners (fire, emergency, legal, economic/private developers, traffic planning, road operations, technical services, universal accessibility) are involved. These models are a catalyst for innovative designs across the city and other municipalities. They are vital to managing use of public spaces, as streets comprise about 30% of public land in the city (more than parks).
· New data and policy tools include: Pedestrian priority mapping to inform the city's Seniors Strategy, the location of street furniture (benches, public washrooms, lighting) to encourage walking, and safety measures for vulnerable road users in collision-prone areas. Visualizations to illustrate Leading Pedestrian Intervals, flexible streets, and parklets. Policy updates and criteria for sustainable travel modes in Environmental Assessments for major transit projects like the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit to ensure the right-of-way and station areas are walkable, bikeable and mixed-use, and in the Transportation Impact Study (TIS) guidelines and the Toronto Green Standard directing what is required as part of land development applications and to obtain privately-funded infrastructure for active modes.
· New partnerships with Toronto Public Health on equity issues for vulnerable road users and investing in "sustainable transportation as health infrastructure", as health care costs skyrocket (from half of the Ontario government's budget to 80% if the trajectory is not changed) and 7 of the top 10 chronic diseases are linked to physical inactivity treatable by shifting auto trips to walking, cycling and transit; developers and business improvement areas (BIAs) to invest in street improvements; and academic researchers on urban freight and illegal curb-side parking to manage traffic congestion, and industrial engineering students to model and estimate mid-block pedestrian volumes where it is too costly to collect site data.
· Ongoing evaluations for projects demonstrate the results that include safety, transportation, and economic impacts, and a Walking Habits Survey conducted every 5 years to monitor behaviour change and performance of city services.
Policy Tools and Implementation
· Coordinating the interdivisional input, updates, and stakeholder management for the Seniors Strategy recommendations for Transportation Services issues to improve mobility and access for the elderly and for all pedestrians.
· Updating of the Traffic Impact Studies to promote more active transportation around private development.
· Providing input on Environmental Assessments, TTC projects, development proposals and reconstruction projects to ensure that pedestrian infrastructure is enhanced.
· Updating the pedestrian infrastructure section of the Toronto Green Standard to ensure key pedestrian requirements are met.
· New pedestrian demand mapping to identify areas of need for strategic pedestrian investments.
· Working with the Cycling unit on developing new guidelines for mixed use trails – ensuring that pedestrians and cyclists co-exist.
Providing input on the Transportation Safety and Local Improvements Program (TSLIP) scorecard so that pedestrian needs are represented and incorporated in the ranking of projects. (formerly MTIP or SOIP – minor transportation improvements program or safety and operational improvements program) TSLIP is a capital program for projects that range from $1,000 to $20,000, used for purposes such as removing right turn channels to reduce crossings for pedestrians or to build a pedestrian refuge island (or remove one that has issues)