Canadian cities all stepping up cycling efforts during Bike to Work week

Bike to Work Week seems to be setting off a competition among Canadian cities to improve cycling infrastructure.

In Toronto, the Star reports that cycling advocates in that city are shifting gears, moving away from a goal of 1,000 kilometres of bike routes to focus on a safe, connected route system that grows ridership. Toronto’s current system of about 400 kilometres is about the size of Vancouver’s. Given the size of the city, the change in emphasis is significant.

That approach dovetails nicely with Vancouver’s recent decision to emphasize ridership and safety, with an emphasis on separate lanes, rather than simple extension of painted lanes, in our next 10-year plan. (Nonetheless, the current council’s investments are bringing significant expansion.)

The latest analysis of the safety risks confronted by cyclists in the two cities was reported today in the Globe. Not surprisingly, Toronto riders face a special hazard from the city’s streetcar tracks, and a political challenge in the coming election, where at least one mayoral candidate is promising a moratorium on new bike infrastructure.

Montreal’s popular Bixi rental bike program, by contrast, is adding in a strong transit discount package that makes the bike share effort as much a transit initiative as a cycling one. (Vancouver is studying the Bixi program but must reconcile the helmet law with bike rental aspect.)