Toronto has cut the ribbon on its first separated bike lane, though a cycling advocate says the city is moving at a “glacial” pace.
Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong were at Sherbourne Street on Monday to officially open the new lane. The $2.4-million track is the first phase of a 14-kilometre network planned for downtown over the next few years.
Mayor Ford, who made an unannounced appearance at the news conference, called the separated lane “a great first step.”
“Downtown, obviously, people cycle a lot. You can’t really compare, obviously, the suburbs to downtown. You won’t see me cycling from Etobicoke down here,” he said. “Some people might want to do that and all the power to them. But I think this is the first step in having [an] integrated bike lane system down here. And that’s what the people want downtown, they want to have bike paths.”
Councillor Minnan-Wong said the new lane is “an important addition to our cycling infrastructure.”
“Today is a modest step forward. Most importantly, it is a sign of the things to come,” he told reporters.
Mr. Minnan-Wong said the city is investing $90-million over 10 years for the connected cycling network and the next lane, on Wellesley, will be constructed in 2013 and 2014.
Mr. Minnan-Wong said he’s also working on a plan to save bike-sharing program BIXI, which has been struggling financially.
Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto, was at the news conference and said Monday was “a good day for cycling in Toronto.”
However, he said the city is not moving quickly enough when it comes to cycling infrastructure. He noted London recently announced $1.4-billion for cycling, dwarfing Toronto’s investment.
Mayor Ford, as has become customary at every event he attends, was asked about allegations that surfaced last month that he was caught on video using crack cocaine. He was also asked about a recent Globe and Mail report that said Nick Kouvalis, his former campaign manager, has said he won’t return for the mayor’s re-election bid unless Mayor Ford goes to rehab.
The mayor, who has said he does not use crack cocaine, did not answer any of the questions about the drug allegations Monday.