No. 15: Because the war on cars is finally over (bikes won)
By the end of this year, Toronto will have 40 kilometres of new bike lanes—the largest single-year expansion in our history
Who remembers the war on cars? It wasn’t as catchy as the Gravy Train, but it was a key to Rob Ford’s mayoral victory, turning the bike, that innocent, reliable means of transport, into a wedge issue between two-wheeling downtowners and suburban commuters. As a result, backing a city-wide bike lane plan became a reliable route to losing elections, especially for suburban councillors—despite the fact that cycling or just plain walking downtown had become a death-defying act. And so progress was slow. Finally, in July 2019, the city launched a three-year plan to upgrade cycling infrastructure. This past year—the dystopian nightmare known as 2020—should have seen 15 permanent kilometres of bike lanes installed. But once Covid-19 happened and cyclists hit the streets in droves, the city accelerated the plan, fast-tracking 25 additional temporary kilometres. By the end of this year, that figure will be 40 kilometres, making it the largest single-year expansion of on-street bike lanes in Toronto’s history. The longest stretch of the new installation is on the Danforth, where six kilometres of glorious white paint on pavement can transport you from Broadview to Vic Park. Coupled with the Bloor Street bike lane extension, which had already been approved pre-Covid, cyclists can now travel from High Park to Dawes Road without having to weave in and out of traffic.