Understanding Phase

Cycling in the GTA

Issues at hand
  • Sharing the road – Cyclist and drivers
  • What services are available to cyclist?
  • What are the benefits to biking?
  • How expensive is it to build more bicycle lanes?
  • Is it beneficial to build more bike lanes?
  • What can the city do to help cyclists?
  • Will bicycle lanes help congested traffic?
  • Accidents and Fatalities

Concept Map
My concept map is broken down into three main branches. The first branch outlines the benefits of cycling as an alternate mode of urban transportation. The second about policies that should strictly be enforced to cyclist, drivers, and pedestrians. And lastly, safety violations that need to be addressed.

Images uploaded to Flickr

Area of Interest
From my own experience in my town, there are no bicycle lanes for cyclists to use. You either cycle on the sidewalk or share the road with cars. I have never once had any problems using sidewalks to travel due to lots of open spaces to bike and travel. However, downtown where the sidewalks are more crowded with people, cycling anywhere else other then the road and designated bike lanes is illegal. Even with bicycle lanes, cyclists are still getting into accidents both on the road and on sidewalks. I wish to explore possible solutions to help cyclist experience a safer, convenient, and enjoyable biking experience and how the city can do more to promote cycling as a mode of convenient transportation.

Research Statement
To observe and pay particular attention to cyclist and driver’s downtown and watch how they interact and share the road. I wish to discover why the addition of bicycle lanes would be a good idea and how it will help cyclist commute more efficiently and safer. I will travel along some of the bicycle paths and observe how the surrounding environments and situations affect cyclist and their bike paths and how drivers and cyclist share the road.

The route I have travelled to collect source materials is downtown Toronto. In particular, I traveled down St George Street and east on College Street. St. George Street was less heavily congested with traffic. I felt while walking down this road that cyclist could easily commute without too much worry about other vehicles and pedestrians. The road conditions seem good and bicycle lanes were clearly marked. On College Street where traffic was heavily congested, I observed cyclists weaving to avoid parked cars, vehicles speeding past cyclist, and crowded sidewalks.

Critical Position
There is much debate about whether the addition of bike lanes to cycling routes will benefit cyclist, drivers, and pedestrians commuting in the city. I believe that it is essential that city planning helps build bicycle lanes in order to promote cycling commuting. However, this is not enough and I feel that stricter cycling policies need to be enforced and education and safety programs provided to those traveling parties. Safety amongst cyclist, pedestrians, and drivers should be a primary concern however laws are rarely, if at all, enforced thus resulting in accidents. In order to ensure a sense of safe and comfortable commuting experience while traveling the city, a new strategy should be introduced such as education and safety programs to help promote and integrate cycling as an alternate and beneficial mode of urban transportation.

Research Concept
Cycling in Toronto as a means of commuting still has issues despite efforts to make traveling by bike a more enjoyable and safer experience. With more money being planned to invest in cycling lanes (budget of $5 million for 2007), the city could potentially build 250 km of bike lanes. As such, cycling should be encouraged as a cleaner, healthier, and alternative mode of urban transportation. However, the addition of bike lanes is not enough to keep cyclist out of accidents and I believe that city planning needs to enforce stricter cycling policies and provide education and safety programs to all travelling downtown.

Future directions that this may topic may take are:
  • Will the addition of bike lanes help reduce accidents between cyclist, drivers, and pedestrians?
  • Will more people use bike lanes as an alternative mode of transportation if they are built?
  • Active cycling encourages a healthier lifestyle. If more people cycle, will more people be healthier?
  • Does the city have enough money to build the bicycle lanes it has promised?
  • If more bicycle lanes are built, will drivers be more open to sharing the road with cyclist?
  • How can cyclist contribute to the cycling community?
  • To what effect will cycling have on the environment?

PDF Slide Show

Slide Show Notes

Toronto Cycling - Toronto Cycling homepage. Great link for cycling maps, biking events, news, and cycling policies.
Bikeway Activists in the Wrong Lane - Studies on sidewalk and bike path cycling
Torontoist "Insane in the Bike Lane" - Great article outlining and addressing specific cycling problems in Toronto.
TheStar "Bike activists going guerrilla"- Interesting article covering cyclist taking matter into their own hands.
TheStar "The Road Less Traveled" - Glenn De Baeremaeker and his political opinion on bicycle lanes.
CityNews - Can You Get Around The G.T.A. Without A Car?
SpacingMontréal - Critiscism on "sharrows" (shared road arrows).
MyMikeLane - Report a bike violation to other Toronto cyclists using an anonymous form.