Car-loving councillor Minnan-Wong wants to bring better bike lanes to Toronto—wait, what?

Car-loving councillor Minnan-Wong wants to bring better bike lanes to Toronto—wait, what?

Back in the day, Denzil Minnan-Wong was about as anti-bike as any municipal politician could be; this guy (with a little help from the Toronto Sun) brought the phrase “war on the car” to Toronto because of the introduction of bike lanes. Then he started riding a bike, and we speculated he might get soft on the two-wheeled commuters among us. This morning the news came out that Minnan-Wong wants to improve and expand the downtown core’s network of bike lanes. For cyclists, it’s like walking under Ebenezer Scrooge’s window on Christmas morning.

The Toronto Star reports:

The separated lanes will affect parking in some areas, but cars could be accommodated by constructing the bike route next to the sidewalk. Cars would be able to park next to the curbed bike lane, adding yet another layer of safety.

Minnan-Wong’s plan has two major north-south and east-west routes, and extends to the lake at Queens Quay. Smaller roads such as St. George, John and Beverley Sts. would be used to provide a seamless network.

Most of the streets affected already have bike lanes, with some minor additions needed to connect the existing patchwork. The one big exception is Richmond.

A two-way bike lane would need to be constructed along that one-way street, which would likely mean removing one of its four lanes, Minnan-Wong said. Not ideal, but necessary to connect the network.

Shockingly, it’s possible this plan is a great idea, even if it does have a “Nixon goes to China” ring to it. Bike-friendly Portland introduced a similar plan for bike lanes early last year, and it seems to be spreading as a safer alternative to current lanes, which either get used as parking or put cyclists at risk of the “door prize.”

Minnan-Wong is predictably having to answer questions about whether he’ll be able to remove a lane of car traffic for cyclists, something Rob Ford is opposed to when it comes to cars or charity marathons. But on CBC’s Metro Morning, Minnan-Wong notably did not mention the Jarvis bike lane in his plan. Is this the grand bargain? Take a lane out of Richmond and return one to Jarvis? Stay tuned.

• City to build curbs for separate bike lanes downtown [Toronto Star]