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Bloor Street bike lanes make headway at city hall

A cyclist pedals along in traffic on Bloor Street near Yonge Street in Toronto on Oct. 21, 2013.

PETER POWER/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Efforts to put bike lanes on Bloor Street are inching forward, with a city hall committee agreeing to include the cost of a study in next year's budget.

The public works committee earmarked $450,000 for an environmental assessment on the effects of bike lanes on Bloor Street between Keele Street and the viaduct, as well as an already planned study of lanes on Dupont Street.

The decision, which requires the approval of council next month, would restart a process that was killed in July, 2011, after Rob Ford was elected on a pro-car agenda. The scope of the work would be smaller than the original environmental assessment, which would have taken in a 24-kilometre stretch from Kipling Avenue to Kingston Road. A new tender will be required for the work.

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The move is a strategic win for the city's bike advocates, who have been playing the long game, hoping that the next election will bring a change in administration and more enthusiasm for what they see as a vital east-west link across the city.

Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto, told the committee that, with 7 per cent of Torontonians cycling every day, more dedicated lanes are needed. "We really do need action, and we need more infrastructure," he said.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, the committee's chairman and the only member to vote against conducting the study, said he fears that cycling advocates will push for the bike lanes whatever the assessment recommends.

"This EA is a Trojan horse to put in more bike lanes," he said. "When you put in those bike lanes, you are going to take out capacity for cars, you are going to eliminate parking. It's going to impact on business. … The city needs a network of bike lanes, but not every road is suitable for a bike lane."

Councillor Janet Davis, who put forward an unsuccessful motion asking staff to report on the potential for another EA on bike lanes along Danforth Avenue from the viaduct to Kingston Road, said no decisions can be made without facts and consultation.

She said more needs to be done to build bike lanes. "We have to move forward like other large cities," she said.

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Toronto City Hall bureau chief

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