It was a good day for bike riders in East York on Sept. 10.
“The weather is beautiful and the sun is shining on Woodbine bike lanes,” councillor Janet Davis told more than 40 cyclists gathered for the opening of the much-anticipated lanes.
The new bike lanes stretch on Woodbine Avenue from Queen Street East in the south to O’Connor Drive in the north.
Davis and Beaches councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon spoke at the celebration, which also featured a ribbon cutting, face painting and a scavenger hunt.
The councillors also led a bike ride down the lanes.
“Woodbine is a very significant north-south connection, it will make cycling easier and safe for thousands in the east end,” Davis said.
The bike lanes are considered the first step towards the city’s 10-year cycling plan, which was approved in June of last year, by city council.
“It is the quickest bike lane installation across the city,” McMahon said. “It basically took a year, connecting two different wards and I would like to assure people that it actually makes everyone safe.”
McMahon also says the turnout for children biking on the lanes to school is the most she has ever seen on any bike lane.
“It’s not a war against the car — it’s connectivity,” she said. “It is active transportation that offers multi-modes to anyone. We have seen kids on these bike lanes that we’ve ever seen biking to school and it is fantastic.”
Peter Low, 61, who has been riding bicycles since he was 9, agrees the new bike lanes are practical and necessary.
“Obviously, as a cyclist, you feel safer because you are separated from a motor vehicle in traffic, and as a driver, because the cyclists have their own lane and you have your own lane — there is no friction,” said Low, a North Toronto resident who drove to the event to celebrate with East York residents and also tried out the lane by riding his bike.
He said, although there would be opposition to the Woodbine bike lanes, he expects Toronto residents will learn to accept them.
“It is going to be a learning curb for everybody,” he said. “Change is difficult for the general public, but I believe that the majority of people [on the road] are adults and are educated, therefore they can learn to readjust to the new reality.”
Coun. Davis also spoke about plans to expand the bike lanes in the East York area.
“We are doing construction in the next few years, soon we would have access right at the south bridge, over and into Scarborough and in the north en,” she said. “Connection across the Woodbine bridge to St. Clair is not going happen until 2020.”
Davis said bike lanes will not only make cyclists feel safer on the road but also encourage Toronto residents to be environmentally aware.
And as for those who firmly do not like the Woodbine bike lanes, Low has four words: “Try them for yourself.”