Biking to work will hopefully be easier and safer in Toronto thanks to an approved update to the City’s Cycling Network Plan.
There’s a short-term plan for 2019 to 2021 and a long-term plan for 2022 and beyond. A major facet of the update is to identify all the existing, planned, and proposed cycling routes across the city.
The update also allows for immediate action to install nearly 15 kilometers of new and improved cycling routes, 12 kilometers of which will be in suburban areas, including Scarborough, Etobicoke, and North York.
"Planning and delivering new and upgraded cycling routes that serve all Toronto residents is an important way we are expanding and growing our transportation network,” says Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee. “To be truly committed to the future of cycling in our city, we must make cycling a safe and viable option for everyone."
For the short-term plan, 120 kilometers of new cycling routes are in the pipeline. The long-term plan envisions a grid of 800 kilometers of cycling routes across Toronto. The City hasn’t specified how long it will take to reach the 800 kilometer goal, but to give you a rough idea of a timeline, between 2016 and 2018, around 60 kilometers of new routes were created and 100 kilometers were upgraded or enhanced.
By now, you’re probably wondering why you’re reading about Toronto’s cycling infrastructure plans on a blog dedicated to the new home industry and real estate related topics. It’s because cycling infrastructure is on the verge of becoming as important as transit infrastructure when it comes to new residential development.
According to the City, there are areas of Toronto where more than 20% of residents use a bike for transportation. And more than 55% of Toronto’s population and employment is within close proximity to a cycling route.
“More people are riding bicycles in our city than ever before and we are responding by responsibly and rationally investing in and expanding Toronto's cycling infrastructure,” says Toronto Mayor John Tory. “We are meeting this unprecedented demand by delivering more bike routes that are safe and protected, and will better connect people to the places they want to go."
Earlier this year, the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development released a report about how important it is to prioritize new mid- to high-density residential development around major transit nodes. With more people living close to work, the same can almost be said for cycling infrastructure.
Cycling is debatably the healthiest way to commute. You get exercise, fresh air, it’s better for the environment, and it’s often faster than slow moving traffic and crowded transit. It’s also an affordable option because you don’t need to rent or own a parking spot, there’s no gas, and your average bike costs less than a car. Yes, there’s seasonal maintenance for a bike, but the same can be said for a car.
For years, the website Walkscore.com has had a Transit Score and Bike Score for neighbourhoods in addition to the Walk Score. The Bike Score is determined by access to and the quality of bike lanes, as well as the flatness of the land.
As the population grows, more mid- and high-density housing gets built, and people start shifting away from car ownership, proximity to cycling infrastructure will be essential for discerning home buyers.