Global Cycling Revolution Finding Deep Roots in Toronto
With bike shops reporting thriving sales across Canada and around the world, cycling advocates are pushing hard to ensure that post-pandemic cities include more cycling infrastructure—an evolution that has a lot of public support, even in traditionally car-smitten suburbs.
The trend is certainly showing up in Toronto, reports CBC. Bike stores all over Ontario’s capital are selling out, “joining their counterparts everywhere from New York City to Vancouver in reporting booming sales.” Bike advocates, meanwhile, “are hopeful they can keep the momentum going, even after the number of people commuting [by car] starts creeping back up.”
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Rather than finding that the shift is “just a short-term reaction,” Michael Longfield, interim executive director of Cycle Toronto, told CBC he hopes to think back on this time as “the beginning of Toronto embracing cycling and cycling culture.”
The city’s ActiveTO plan, it seems, has increased the odds of such an affection taking root. The program has created 57 kilometres of “quiet streets” in an effort to “free up more space for pedestrians and cyclists to move safely through the city without getting too close.” The plan—which also includes “the temporary shutdown of more major arteries on weekends, including on Lake Shore Boulevard West”—has already drawn in many happy cycling families, even though the road closures triggered the ire of some commuters and at least one city councillor.
Still, Cycle Toronto hopes the city will “move quickly on the third element of ActiveTO: more bike lanes, both permanent and temporary,” reports CBC. Toronto Mayor John Tory has called cycling a “safety valve” for the city’s transit system, and a City of Toronto spokesperson told CBC that “staff are working on a program to accelerate projects in the council-approved cycling network plan, which aims to add 120 kilometre of new bike lanes over three years.” That initiative earned the support of 80% of Toronto residents in a 2018 poll, including more than 70% in car-dependent suburbs like Etobicoke.
Also seeing something of an increase in consumer—and commuter—interest in Toronto are electric bikes. Michael Pasquale, co-founder of the Canadian Electric Bike Association, said many dealers are describing April as a record month. E-bikes are permitted in bike lanes in Toronto, said Cycle Toronto’s Longfield, “fit well into active transportation networks, and definitely co-exist with human-powered bicycles.”
Meanwhile, SmartCities Dive reports that Miami “has partnered with shipping company DHL Express and mobility logistics hub Reef Technology to pilot four low-powered electric-assist e-cargo bikes that will be used for deliveries across the city.” Capable of hauling up to 400 pounds/181 kilograms or 60 cubic feet in volume,” the three-wheeled bikes are projected to “reduce 101,000 kilograms of CO2e annually, and should help DHL achieve its short-term goal of ‘clean pickup and delivery solutions’ for 70% of operations by 2025,” the publication states.