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Ford pedalling away from downtown bike-lane network

Building a separated bike-lane network in downtown isn't a priority for Mayor Rob Ford now or any time soon, according to his office.

"Right now, it's just a proposal. It's just being discussed," Adrienne Batra, the mayor's press secretary, said. "We're trying to stay focused on the bigger-picture issue right now, and that's the budget."

Mr. Ford has yet to discuss the idea directly with Denzil Minnan-Wong, the councillor who pitched it last year.

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Mr. Minnan-Wong is now chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees cycling infrastructure.

However, Ms. Batra said Mr. Ford is willing to take a closer look at the scheme, "as long as it sticks to a few principles: safety on the roads, [it]doesn't create traffic congestion and the community agrees to it."

Mr. Minnan-Wong raised the proposal during a wide-ranging meeting on his portfolio with the mayor's staff earlier this week. "They were open to discussing the idea," the councillor said.

Mr. Minnan-Wong is in favour of installing curb cycling routes on existing bike lanes on Sherbourne Street and Wellesley Avenue, with connections on smaller streets such as St. George, John and Beverley Streets.

He also advocates building a new, two-way separated bike lane on Richmond Street, which would require removing one of four lanes of traffic.

The scheme would see second curbs installed a metre or so out from the existing curbs, allowing cyclists to pedal safely in the space between sidewalks and parked cars or traffic, depending on the location.

Mr. Minnan-Wong was a right-leaning outsider when he first proposed the network last spring.

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David Miller's public works committee rebuffed the idea.

At the time, the committee was focused on piloting a separated bike lane on University Avenue, a project council narrowly rejected when it became an election issue last May.

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Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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