Cycling in Toronto has changed greatly in the past couple of years; from the creation of the Toronto Cyclists Union to the adoption, stalling of and slow implementation of the city’s Bike Plan. There have been a lot of ups and downs in cycling in Toronto that have really shaped the culture of the bike. We’ve been home to the Toronto Criterium races in the beautiful St. Lawrence Market and hosted the CMWC on the island. We lost cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard in a controversial altercation and notorious bike thief Igor Kenk lost his bike shop and nearly 3,000 stolen bikes. We got some bike lanes slapped down on our streets but were slapped by the Provincial Government by our lack of cycling infrastructure. Despite a lot of adversary from motorists and some city councillors cycling in Toronto has only gotten better and will continue to do so in the coming years.
Here are a few stats taken from various sources:
Kilometres of cycling lanes in Toronto’s network
2009 – 418.2km
1999 – 166km
Though we’re barely halfway there; the original Bike Plan deadline calls for 1000km by 2011
Percentage of Torontonians who cycle to work or for play
2009 – 54%
1999 – 48%
Granted the majority of the population who cycle do it for leisure rather than for leisure and utility but at least people are out there being active.
2000s – 26
1990s – 38
Percentage of commutes done by bicycle
Toronto – 1.7%
San Francisco – 2.5%
Vancouver – 3.0%
Minneapolis – 3.8%
Portland – 3.9%
So what's in store for Toronto in the coming years? Well in city is boosting efforts for finish the Bike Plan, increasing the budget by a hefty sum. In 2010 Toronto will be hosting the International Bike!Bike! Conference (http://www.bikebike.org/) and we'll also be hosting the Pan American Games in 2015 which will mean we'll be getting a velodrome in Hamilton (yay!). In addition, the Province is stepping up efforts to deter unsafe driving by doubling or even quadrupling fines for violations such as running a red which will (hopefully) make the streets just a bit safer. Oh and don't forget the cell-phone ban will be coming into full effect too meaning less careless drivers on our streets.
Happy new year and safe riding!