Cyclists campaign for user-friendly LRT

Anthony Humphreys has cycled freely in Toronto most of his life. He wants the designers of planned the Eglinton LRT to keep cyclists safe and well served. (HUMPHREYS_FARIA_E)

When he was a boy, Anthony Humphreys rode his bicycle everywhere – from Maurice Cody School, near Bayview and Davisville avenues, to the shore of Lake Ontario and even to the downtown core.

Today, Humphreys, 42, still cycles up to 20 hours a week. He rides his 22-year-old Norco bush pilot to grocery stores, bike trails and occasionally to work. Given the choice, however, particularly where the city plans light rapid transit lines, Humphreys would appreciate some protection for cyclists.

“The best thing the city could do is to install physically separate bike lanes,” he said. “That physical separation can be by elevation of the asphalt on the bike lanes versus the rest of the street.”

Humphreys is a member of the Toronto Cyclists’ Union and participates in discussions that involve the future of cycling. Humphreys worries how the LRT will affect cyclists, but he hopes the TTC will improve conditions for cyclists along Eglinton Avenue, one of the proposed LRT routes.

Recently, cycling enthusiasts gathered in a meeting room at the Salvation Army Church (7 Eglinton Ave.) to have their say about how the anticipated Eglinton LRT station would accommodate cyclists’ needs.

The meeting attracted about 25 people and was organized by the local bike union advocacy group for Ward 22. The group highlighted ways in which a future Eglinton LRT would affect their day-to-day lives, such as the need for safe parking for cyclists, future bike trails, as well as whether bike lanes should run beside or separately from vehicles and LRT lanes.

At the meeting, Humphreys addressed how station designs need to cater to cyclists’ needs, especially when it comes to safe parking.

“It would take good quality bike parking at the stations … and good thinking on the city planner’s part in terms of how to get people to the stations by bike,” he said. “I’d want to know that I could lock my bike in there, securely, so that when I’m finished my trip and I’m returning home, my bike will be there for me.”

Plans for any bike lanes still hinge on city council’s verdict on the Sheppard Avenue line, during the special transit meeting, March 21.

Until then, Andrea Garcia of the Toronto Cyclists Union said nothing has been set in stone.

“At the bike union right now, we’re trying to figure out where all of this stands,” Garcia said. “Everyone is still waiting on this March 21 vote to find out what’s going to happen on Sheppard. Once the province does a better review what the city wants, I’ll be able to get a lot more information in terms of where all these bike lanes are.”

Also attending the cyclists’ meeting were TTC representative David Nagler and Hans Riekko of Toronto city planning; they’re working together to craft station plans that cater to the needs of residents.

Riekko said that cyclists are being considered and not just at the Eglinton station. He said that bicycle parking, lockers and general convenience are part of the discussion.

“The stations are fully accessible,” he said. “There is an elevator that can accommodate bicycles as well as escalators at each station.”

Anthony Humphreys said he is also a husband and parent of two daughters and his family plays a big role in his cycling advocacy. He said part of his motivation is to “build a city safe for my kids.”