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Group Proposes Cargo Bikes, 21 Kilometres of New Cycling Paths, for Toronto’s Finch West Area

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A non-profit in Toronto is pushing for a 21-kilometre network of off-street cycling paths between the Jane-Finch area and Rexdale, to relieve volume on Finch West’s crowded bus lines and make cargo bikes a realistic option for nearby businesses.

It’s a transportation corridor through a poor neighbourhood that “is snarled with car and truck traffic,” the Globe and Mail writes [1]. “The buses are crowded. And there is a great deal of publicly owned space to work with in creating a cycle trail network.”

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While “there are many bureaucratic reasons why this vision will be complex to implement,” along with questions about the reliability and speed of a bike cargo operation, particularly in winter, the community is pushing to get it done.

“After COVID, there’s been a lot of talk about how we’re all in this together, of building back better and dealing with the social determinants of health,” said planner Darnel Harris, executive director of Our Greenway [3]. “This is what that looks like.”

The group “is pursuing two linked messages: that cycling can work meaningfully outside of downtown, and that cycles—either three-wheeled or four-wheeled, with electric motors—can be useful tools for moving freight across a neighbourhood,” the Globe says.

Harris is also arguing that the health and economic benefits of better mobility choices “would be welcome here, in the area of the city that has been hardest hit by COVID-19, and where many low-income residents live in high rise apartments with very little retail in walking distance,” the paper adds.

Our Greenway board member Sam Starr, a supply chain specialist based from Vancouver, told the Globe that freight giants like DHL already make good use of cargo cycles in western Europe, with three- and four-wheel models hauling loads as heavy as 350 kilograms—the capacity of a small van.

“They’re versatile, easy to maintain, and considerably more affordable than a van,” he said. “We want to get bikes into the hands of small businesses and demonstrate the potential of sustainable delivery.”

The Globe has details [1] on Our Greenway’s efforts to connect its proposed bikeway with the Finch West LRT project and its progress so far.