We mostly know each other from LinkedIn, and you were a guest on my webinar series, which I am still grateful for; I appreciate the leadership you clearly demonstrated during the webinar.
And that’s why, seeing a leader of your magnitude questioning the necessity of a significant bike network in our city astounded me.
You see, I am a pretty average cyclist.
I don’t have special gear, I don’t ride all year, I bought my bike second hand on Kijiji because it had a child seat—and it works great.
As the average cyclist, I found out that it’s faster (incredibly faster), cheaper and better for the environment, and that’s why I use it whenever I can.
Also, as the average cyclist, I don’t feel safe riding where there is no dedicated bike lane.
On many of the streets where a lane does not exist and I don’t feel safe, I get on the sidewalk.
I even have a term for it: “balking”, where I walk with my bike, on the sidewalk, because I don’t want to get killed. I have 2 young children at home, so I am “balking”, where I should be easily biking.
So here are some points from your post (order by importance) I wish would come across, if you are reading this letter:
1. “Only one thing missing. Bikes.”
The reason there are no cyclists in the picture is that they are gone because they have already ridden by. They take up much less space on the road and don’t create traffic jams, which makes them a quick alternative to driving.
2. “Cars lined up for a mile“
Cyclists aren’t contributing to traffic. Not to mention this is a narrow bike lane. In fact, bike lanes actively mitigate traffic in downtown Toronto by providing an alternative way to get around. The real issue is the automobile infrastructure throughout the city and the LACK of a solid and well-connected cycling network. Besides, it’s Yonge Street, taking the subway to avoid traffic jams is a viable option too.
3. “… do we need more bike lanes or fewer more focused bike lanes.”
As mentioned above, I only ride in dedicated lanes. To such an extent that will make a big detour (for example: for a destination on Dundas St East, I will ride south to Richmond St because it has a lane and then up on Sherbourne). There is no such thing as “focused bike lanes” if you need to get somewhere, how is it helpful that the next dedicated lane is 400 m away?
4. “… but ask your mayoralty candidate their opinion:”
That is exactly why I am writing this letter—because a leader like yourself can influence the next Mayor of Toronto on this topic and is crucial that when it comes to the future of the cycling network, we get it right.
If you read so far, thank you for reading, Jon.