Eager cyclists gathered Friday morning at the intersection of Bloor and Lippincott St. to ring in the opening, 40 years in the making, of a 2.6 kilometre bike lane along Bloor Street West between Shaw and Avenue Road.
The relative success of the bike lane will be evaluated, with a report due in autumn of 2017, featuring data collected and analyzed by Kitchener’s Miovision Technologies, in collaboration with the University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute.
Using 23 street-mounted cameras, Miovision and the Transportation Research Institute will study data relating to pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist activity.
City council approved the bike lanes in May, voting 38 for to 3 against.
“Whenever we change the makeup of our streets, we must carefully measure and monitor the impact on our community,” said Councillor Jaye Robinson, who also serves as Toronto’s Chair of Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. “The city will work to keep all modes of traffic moving safely and smoothly during this pilot while ensuring we have credible, verifiable data at the end of this pilot project.”
The two business improvement associations affected by the bike path, in collaboration with U of T and the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, will evaluate the economic impact on the street life of the path, while the Toronto Parking Authority will monitor how the lanes affect parking.
The Bloor Street bike lane is approximately 80% complete, at a cost of about $500,000, and should be completely finished by early next week, with crews finishing up pavement markings and installing the flexi-posts that physically separate the cycling lane from automobile traffic.
The $500,000 price tag includes the costs of research and analysis, as well as the cost of snow removal.
Before the bike lanes were installed, more than 1,000 pedestrians and over 300 businesses along Bloor Street completed a survey expressing how they believed they might be affected.
As anyone who has cycled in Toronto can attest, particularly if they’re used to biking in a cycle-forward city like Montreal or Vancouver, the existence of “bike lanes” in the city has been tenuous.
Aside from the long standing characterization of cyclists in Toronto as latté sipping Marxists engaged in a long-standing “war on cars”, the only trace of bike lanes in the city centre previously were demarcated by simple lines painted on the road, as opposed to using physical barriers, which is a little like WKRP’s Les Nessman insisting that his co-workers respect the lines painted on the floor around his office space as if they were walls.
Which is to say that bike lanes in Toronto didn’t actually exist, except in people’s imaginations.
Last February, Miovision closed a $30 million Series B financing round, led by MacKinnon, Bennett & Co., with assists from Investeco Capital, Renewal Funds, Plaza Ventures and Comerica.
Miovision, which now serves over 650 customers in 50 countries, turned 10 years old last year, at which point Miovision CEO Kurtis McBride talked to Cantech Letter about his company’s plans to build nothing less than “the operating system of the smart city.”
The Bloor bike lane is a pilot project, the future of which will be determined by an evaluation to be sent to city council next fall, which councillors will consult before deciding whether or not to keep it going.
Removing the bike lane would cost the city an estimated $425,000.
At least the evaluation will be data-driven, thanks to the city’s collaboration with Miovision and UofT’s Transportation Research Institute.