Municipality: City of Toronto Implementation: 2009-01-01
Policy Name: Bike Plan New Strategic Direction 2009 Contact: Daniel Egan
Department: Cycling Infrastructure and Programs Title: Manager
Community profile:

  • Toronto is located in Southern Ontario, covering a land area of 630 square kilometers.
  • In 2011, the population of Toronto was 2.6 million and is expected to increase to 3 million by 2031.
  • Major highways that run through the city are: 404/DVP, 401, 400, 427, 409, and Gardiner Expressway.
  • Public transportation is provided by Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), GO Transit offers regional transit in the GTHA. 

Short Description:

Shifting Gears:

Focuses on creating a more bicycle friendly city. The Plan sets out integrated principles, objectives and recommendations regarding safety, education and promotional programs as well as cycling related infrastructure, includes implementation plan for a comprehensive bikeway network.


Bike Plan New Strategic Direction 2009:

Update on 2001 Bike Plan and recommendations on how to improve cycling conditions and implementation and encourage cycling in the city.


Toronto Walking Strategy:

Outlines the requirement for making the City of Toronto an environment that is appealing to walk, convenient, safe, and stimulating experience for everyone.


Pedestrian Charter:

Outlines key principles to create an environment that meets the travel needs of pedestrians.


Shifting Gears Bike Plan

·         Approved in June 2001 and intended to guide development and maintenance of cycling infrastructure and programs.

·         Plan also emphasizes the importance of cyclist, motorist and police training in order to safely integrate increased cycling traffic.

·         Plan makes recommendations for bike-and-ride programs with the TTC, such as bike racks on buses, and also emphasizes the need for increased bicycle parking facilities across the city.

·         The plan identifies the need to provide annual updates on the implementation of the Plan. Goals include:

·         Build a 1000 km bicycle network with improved cycling facilities across the city

·         Double number of bicycle trips made in the city

·         Reduce the number of bicycle collision and injuries


Bike Plan New Strategic Direction 2009

·         Serves as the Update to the 2001 Shifting Gears Bike Plan, six new strategic directions to achieve goals:

·         Launch a Toronto Public Bicycle System in 2010

·         Expand the downtown bikeways to support the Public Bicycle System

·         Accelerate construction of the Bikeway Network trails

·         Expand high-security bicycle parking facilities

·         Develop a comprehensive research and evaluation program

·         Develop a new promotion and communications strategy

Toronto Walking Strategy

·         Strategy action giving priority to health, social, economic and environmental benefits of walking

·         An intergraded approach that brings together several city division and agencies to create a physical and cultural environment that encourages walking

·         Strategy identifies 6 areas for action – with 52 specific recommendations focused on improving pedestrian infrastructure and nurturing a culture of walking in the City of Toronto

·         Strategy also identifies ways to turn non-walking oriented areas into places that people want to walk through new design guidelines, sidewalk improvements and improved lighting and street-scaping. Steps include:

·         A culture of walking will be supported and natured throughout the city

·         All city sidewalks and walkways will be clear, accessible and easy to navigate

·         City building projects, both public and private, provide opportunities to create a high quality walking environment

·         Tools for navigating the city on foot, such as signage and maps, will make walking easy and enjoyable

·         Pedestrian-focused projects and initiative will be coordinated across the city division and agencies

·         Areas that are not well designed for walking will be transformed, neighborhood by neighborhood, into places where people walk

Toronto Pedestrian Charter

·         Ensuring that walking is safe, comfortable and convenient contains six guiding principles:

·         Accessibility- walking is a free and direct means of accessing local goods, services, community amenities and public transit

·         Equity: Walking is the only mode of travel that is universally affordable, and allows children and youth, and people with specific medical conditions to travel independently

·         Health and Well Being: Walking is a proven method of promoting personal health and well-being.

·         Environmental Sustainability: Walking relies on human power and has negligible environmental impact.

·         Personal and community safety: An environment in which people feel safe and comfortable walking increases community safety for all.

·         Community cohesion and vitality: A pedestrian-friendly environment encourages and facilitates social interaction and local economic vitality. 

Step by Step Process:

Cycling Process


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.).


Pedestrian Process

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)

Primary Drivers:

Councillor and senior management were the driving force (some of the obstacles associated with these drivers include lots of policy support, but not enough resources on the implementation side to allow staff to meet the policy potential)


Councillor and senior management, and the Pedestrian Expert Reference Group


  • Need stronger legislation to protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians.
  • Municipalities face financial challenges with maintaining and building key infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users, however the financial benefits of active transportation and better mobility/access accrue to higher orders of government in terms of economic prosperity and health care savings (increased physical acticity and fewer injuries and deaths mean lower health costs)
  • Older suburban neighbourhoods and their residents often resist the addition of sidewalks, and this can have polarizing effects on those who are more vulnerable and need the sidewalks (e.g., children, transit users, households without access to a vehicle).


  • Updates to Highway Traffic Act are low cost and helps change road safety for all road users.
  • Need a better and stronger business case that is tied to ways to invest in and support municipal capital projects for safer and better active transportation.
  • Need more public engagement and education, and stronger political leaders to make the right decisions in the face of opposition that is unfounded.


Bike Plan Outcomes

·         Bikeway Network (bicycle lanes, routes and trails) expanded from 166 km to 403 km

·         Post-and-ring bike racks have been doubled from 7,500 to over 16,000

·         Toronto has installed more bike parking than any other North American city

·         In 2009 bike racks have been installed on 85% of TTC bus routes

·         Bike Week expanded to Bike Month, with over 100 City and community-led event

·         Toronto’s first Bicycle Station opened at Union Station in May 2009

·         Award winning Kids Can-Bike Camps offered by Parks, Forestry and Recreation

·         Waterfront Toronto has developed and implemented significant improvements to the Martin Goodman Waterfront Trail

·         New bicycle parking guidelines for provision of secure bicycle parking for new developments

·         Martin Goodman Waterfront Trail maintained through winter 2008-9 for the first time

·         Launched public bike sharing program in the downtown core in 2010

·         Installed the first separated on-street bike lanes on Sherbourne between Bloor and Queen Street

·         Approved first contra flow lanes on Shaw street (one way traffic for vehicles and two way traffic for cyclists)


Pedestrian Outcomes


·         Traffic Calming areas. The city has a Traffic Calming policy (2010) and a program to traffic calmlocations, using a range of devices such as speed humps, intersection narrowing, raised medians, chicanes, and bump-outs.

·         Managing and implementing an Essential Links sidewalk capital program ($2 million – city wide, annually) to add missing sidewalks and new TTC stop sidewalk extensions for accessibility.

·         New safety measures such as leading pedestrian interval, right turn on red restrictions, pedestrian “scrambles”, enhanced pedestrian crossing times at intersections and safety reviews and interventions at top pedestrian collision intersections.

·         Upgrades of all pedestrian crossings to either full signals or enhanced and more visible markings/lights.

·         New zebra striping at all new intersections and crosswalks.

·         Accessible pedestrian signals installed at all new intersections for visually impaired.

·         Reduced trip hazards through the introduction of sidewalk “shaving” technology for 4,500 bays.

·         Pedestrian Countdown Signals. These provide information on the available time left to cross an intersection. To date, almost all intersections have been converted, while the remainder cannot be converted at this time for specific operational reasons.

·         Leading Pedestrian Intervals. These signals provide pedestrians with a few seconds head start so they are more visible while crossing to drivers making turns at intersections. Some of the LPIs now installed include Adelaide/University, Christie/St.Clair, and Yonge/Harbour/Lakeshore.

·         Longer Pedestrian Walk Times. Beginning in 2007, signalized intersections are being converted to permit a longer pedestrian crossing time.

·         Zebra Crossing Pavement Markings. These markings increase the visibility of the pedestrian crossing area. They are being installed on all major road reconstruction and resurfacing projects, and on new traffic control or pedestrian crossover installations.

·         Replacement of Pedestrian Crossovers ('PXOs') with traffic signals on major and minor arterial roads. To date, about one-third of the PXOs on major arterials have been converted to fully signalized intersections and the rest enhanced with brighter lights and larger lenses to enhance visibility. On minor arterials, almost 40 PXOs have been replaced with traffic control signals, and the remaining PXOs have also been enhanced. PXOs on collector and local roads are also being enhanced on a priority basis and all new PXO new installations are constructed to the new standard.

·         Accessible Pedestrian Signals. These improve conditions at signalized intersections for the vision-impaired. About 525 of 2,140 signalized intersections have been converted to date and all new installations now include this feature.

·         Red Light Cameras: These have proven to reduce injury collisions attributed to red light running by more than 60 percent. There are about 80 red light cameras operating at Toronto signalized intersections.

·         Pedestrian Priority Crossings. Toronto has implemented pedestrian priority crossings at 3 downtown intersections with high pedestrian volumes. Staff are currently evaluating the effectiveness of these intersections.

·         No Right Turn on Red Prohibitions. The development of criteria for 'No Right Turn on Red' prohibitions where appropriate to reduce pedestrian collisions.

·         iNavigait. The City is a partner with the Toronto Area Safety Coalition and Toronto Police Services in a pedestrian safety program called iNavigait. It also works closely with School Boards and Public Health on safe routes to school programs, and with the Toronto Area Safety Coalition on community safety days and participates in RISK Watch Safety Nights for school-aged children and their families.

·         Traffic Safety Education Programs. The city administers a 'Watch Your Speed' program and publishes quarterly pedestrian injury collision data leaflets to raise awareness about the need for safety among all road users.

Street Design Improvements/Place-making

·         New streetscape and public realm plans to promote better pedestrian environments when reconstructing roads.

·         Introduction of two permanent pedestrian zones at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto.

·         New planter gates in Kensington Market to facilitate pedestrian-only shopping days.

·         Creating new pedestrian spaces through flexible streets (Market St.) and introduction of parklets in 2013


Public Engagement

·         Biennial Walking Forums, jointly sponsored with industry partners

·         Creation of a searchable “Toronto Walks” database

·         New Pedestrian Expert Reference Panel to provide input on policy and implementation.

·         Partnering with other Transportation Services units, with other Divisions like Toronto Public Health, and with external private, public and non-governmental organizations to advance a walkable, sustainable city.

Lessons Learned:

Learn from innovative jurisdictions like New York City (retrofitting streets) and associations like NACTO's new urban street design guide.

What would help?

Using visualizations and different communication tools, those are very helpful, particularly for discussing the purpose of a road diet (a proven safety measure by the FHWA) through a community meeting to foster positive dialogue. A consultation project for the Flemingdon Park community (on St. Dennis Drive) was funded by Toronto Public Health through its health partners.

Walking strategy Lessons Learned:

·         The ability to meet sustainable transportation goals is dependent on the development of enhanced pedestrian networks and better linkages with public transit. While pedestrian networks in the core of the city are well-developed, the suburban land use and transportation networks do not promote safe, convenient or pleasant walking trips as readily. Improved walkability reduces per capita vehicle kilometers traveled and greenhouse gas emissions.

·         Walkable streets and neighbourhoods are associated with high retail rents and residential and commercial land values.

·         Everybody is a pedestrian. Walking is the least expensive mode of transport and every trip involves some form of walking – to the car, public transit, bike or final destination.

·         The pedestrian should be considered at the top of our transportation hierarchy because they are the most vulnerable.

·         As Toronto’s population ages, there is a greater need to ensure that our road network is designed to be fully accessible and also promotes active transportation.


·         On an annual average, there are between 50,000 and 55,000 total collisions per year in the City of Toronto, of which 2,000 to 2,300 involve pedestrians. Between 25 and 30 pedestrians die as a result, and seniors are more likely to die of their injuries than any other group of pedestrians. 

Applicability Across Ontario:

The transferability of the Walking Strategy is not only its coordinated approach from infrastructure to partnerships to policies, but also the Public Realm Section's set-up and oversight function to effectively expand the view of city streets and how they are designed and engineered, in order to accommodate a broader range of sustainable modes and meet needs for human health, sustainable land development, and quality of life. 

Similar Tools Used by Other Municipalities:

  • Federal Highway Administration published top 9 proven safety measures in 2012. ITE, Ontario Traffic Council, tried to reference their reports and presentations.
  • Transportation Research Board resources.
  • 2013 NACTO urban street design guide.

Further Information:


Cycling: Daniel Egan: 416-392-9065;

Pedestrian: Janet Lo:



City of Toronto:

Shifting Gears City of Toronto Bike Plan:

Bike Plan New Strategic Direction 2009:

Toronto Walking Strategy:

Pedestrian Charter:

Seniors Strategy:


OTC training- intersection safety: 


Additional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan Scan Update Questions:

1.    Were there any community groups that were engaged in the development and/implementation of the Plan? If so, what were some of the outcomes of their engagement? And what were some of the lessons learned from the community engagement?

-       City of Toronto's Transportation Services staff are part of CAA's Traffic Coalition to promote safer behaviour by all road users, such as reducing distracted driving and walking.

2.    Has there been any discussion regarding how a Complete Streets Policy may fit in with the goals of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan? If so, what steps have been taken in developing a Complete Streets policy?

-       Yes, Toronto is exploring the development of a complete streets policy.

3.    Has your jurisdiction undertaken any pedestrian and cycling counts, if so how did you undertake them? What outcomes resulted from the counts?


-       The City of Toronto's Traffic Safety Unit conducts data collection through a multi-year contract for counting. City Planning's Transportation Planning section also looks at mode share trends. For downtown Toronto, 80% walk, bike or take transit in the Toronto centre. We need to acknowledge that is a great active transportation and transit mode share for a North American city. 

4.   Has your jurisdiction encountered any safety issues such as vandalism? If so how have your addressed them? 

     - City of Toronto's Transportation Services has a StreetART program and graffiti removal initiative in partnership with Municiapl Licensing & Standards.