August 2023 City Council Update
While many were enjoying summer vacations, August saw Mayor Chow and her Executive team lead City Council in taking an important step towards diversifying the city’s revenues to address the current budget shortfall.
Of the various revenue tool options on the table, we are particularly pleased that City Council has approved increasing the cost of on-street parking by:
- Removing the $5 an hour cap for on-street parking which has been the main contributor to keeping parking well below market rate;
- Implementing a commercial parking levy.
The popularity of large shopping malls is in large part due to the free parking they offer, which has contributed to making it harder for local high streets to compete. A parking levy in Toronto is expected to generate around $490 million a year. Increasing the cost of parking will go a long way towards investing in Toronto’s active transportation network.
(An archival photo of Toronto covered in parking lots in the 1970s.)
Transportation Equity Includes Fare and Fine Equity
Making active modes of transportation more attractive for people begins with making the TTC a more affordable and reliable option. In addition to calling for integrating TTC fares with Bike Share Toronto, we are also calling for fine equity.
The current fines for fare evasion on the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) are disproportionately high (with fees beginning at $195 and increasing up to as much as $425) compared to just $30 for car drivers who don’t pay for parking. The cost to take the TTC increased to $3.35 this past April 3, 2023. The cost for hourly on-street parking ranges between $1 and $5. These low rates have gone unchanged since 2017.
The current fee and fine structure currently in place in Toronto disproportionately penalizes transit riders compared to drivers. This is neither administratively fair, nor equitable in the application of administrative justice. Additionally, we will be calling on the city to increase the financial penalties and enforcement for vehicles that illegally park and block sidewalks and bike lanes. This has become a chronic issue that has been left unchecked for too long.
If Toronto is serious about prioritizing public health, climate action, and transportation equity, making public transportation more accessible, affordable and convenient must be prioritized over private vehicular travel.
We are eager to participate with the upcoming stakeholder and public consultations that will be taking place this fall to help guide the city with the preparation of a city-wide parking strategy through an equity impact lens.
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Improving Construction Zone Safety Falls on Us to DEMAND it
The lack of safety for people around construction zones has gotten worse over the past few months. Over the past year Cycle Toronto, Walk Toronto, Friends and Families for Safe Streets, and other community road safety stakeholders have been meeting with city staff, including the Transportation Services Director of Traffic Management, with the objective of finding a path forward towards making our streets, bike lanes and sidewalks safer for people.
We have been asking for a public forum on this issue since the lack of safety and consideration for people traveling outside of vehicles around construction zones impacts everyone. To help demonstrate to Mayor Chow, her Executive Committee and City Council that this is a priority that needs their immediate attention, we are organizing a large peaceful protest that will be a family friendly event that plays on Halloween being one of the most fun secular holidays of the year, but is also the most dangerous night for people who walk, wheel or bike.
When construction signs direct cyclists to dismount and walk on the sidewalk, or pedestrians are informed (with no notice) that the sidewalk is closed, often leaving them marooned and stuck between vehicular traffic and construction hoarding, they are essentially telling people that their safety doesn't matter.
Mark your calendars for Sunday October 29th - from 1:00 to 2:30.
Our organizing committee is seeking volunteers to help us plan. If you are interested in leading a multi-modal feeder group or making signs, please email Alison, our Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at [email protected].
EV Charging Network Study
Have your say and help the City of Toronto plan where EV charging infrastructure should be implemented. Cycle Toronto endorses and supports the City’s strategies, plans and initiatives that seek to reduce air pollutants and emissions. We want the roll-out of on-street Electric Vehicle Vehicle Strategy to be done with equity of access and mobility for all road users and want to ensure:
- That on-street electric vehicle charging stations where painted bike lanes or sharrows are present will be upgraded to protected bike lanes in coordination with station implementation. This measure will help ensure that vehicles using the charging stations remain in the designated charging space and won’t conflict with people biking;
- The roll out of public EV charging stations will not impinge on existing or future installations of bike lanes and cycle tracks or be used as an excuse to not implement a Complete Street with a bike lane;
- That the City's Electric Vehicle Working Group responsible for the Electric Vehicle file include e-bikes and other electric micro-mobility devices;
- That any cost subsidies being implemented for users of electric vehicles be expanded to all vehicles including bikes, e-bikes and other e-mobility devices that contribute to moving people away from vehicles that rely on fossil fuels.
Complete the public EV charging network study today - the deadline is September 30th.
Upcoming Fall Consultations
This fall, there are going to be several stakeholder and public consultations regarding city priorities that will help us move towards a more sustainable and vibrant biking city.
Comprehensive Micro-mobility Strategy
Our bike lanes, sidewalks and streets have devolved into a wild west as a wide range of active mobilities and e-mobility devices that move at various speeds are competing for limited space. None of these devices are allowed on sidewalks and many aren’t allowed in our limited network of bike lanes. We are advocating for a comprehensive Micro-mobility Strategy that will determine how micro-mobility devices relate to moving people safely and sustainably without endangering the lives of pedestrians, cyclists and all road users.
This strategy must seek to resolve any safety concerns identified by the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee and other community stakeholders. It is imperative that the adoption of any emerging mobility options won't negatively impact the safety and accessibility of people in Toronto.
As an important community stakeholder make sure you sign up for our Action Alerts so that we can keep you informed on upcoming consultations on this important issue.
(A man rides an e-scooter in downtown Toronto.)
City-wide Parking Strategy
The cost of on-street parking remains far too cheap and well below market value. Many councillors and resident groups have the view that letting people store their private vehicles on valuable public curbside space should remain their privilege.
Imagine if everyone bought sports equipment that they didn’t have space to store and started parking their snowboards, skis, furniture and other large items in public space with the expectation that they don’t need to pay. At the end of the day, a car or SUV is personal property and it is not a right or the responsibility of the city to provide car owners with free parking.
As the city moves forward with their planning and consultations we will advocating for a range of initiatives that will see bike and mobility parking included in the parking strategy by:
- Increasing the revenue generated from on and off-street parking by increasing the cost to reflect the real cost of using valuable curbside real estate;
- Expanding access to safe and secure bike parking across the city;
- Testing new forms of secure bike parking for Torontonians who have no safe place to store their bikes or e-bikes or cargo bikes;
- Aligning with the city’s micro-mobility strategy;
- Providing parking for different types of mobilities such as moped style e-bikes and e-scooters which are increasingly using bike parking;
- Ensuring on-street car parking and illegal bike lane and sidewalk parking is enforced;
- Consolidating on and off-street parking with on-street permit parking which remains incredibly under priced and not representative of the curbside real estate it occupies;
- Applying an equity assessment to determining parking rates when compared to transit and Bike Share Toronto fares.
Sign up for action alerts today so you don’t miss a beat.
2025-2027 Near-Term Cycling Network Plan
Get excited! While city staff continue to work on completing the 100km of new cycling infrastructure outlined in the current 2022-2024 Near-Term Cycling Network Plan, they have begun planning for the future with the 2025-2027 Near-Term Cycling Network Plan.
When the now Mayor Chow campaigned in the 2014 Toronto Municipal Election, part of her campaign platform included implementing 200 km of new cycling infrastructure. We look forward to advancing cycling in our wonderful city and increasing the momentum that has been achieved over the past few years. We can’t wait to see what can be achieved under a progressive Mayor that is a cyclist like us.
Stay tuned. We will keep you posted on this development.
(A City of Toronto map of the recently opened Douro bikeway.)
Celebrating Complete Cycling Infrastructure
We don’t always take the time to celebrate new cycling infrastructure, and we plan on changing that.
On Aug 17 we attended a celebration organized by the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association to highlight the amazing bi-directional cycle track connecting Esplanade to Mill St. This connection demonstrates that small cycling connections can deliver a huge impact. In this case, it removed conflict from cyclists, walkers, joggers, dog walkers and the myriad of people who were forced to share a narrow multi-use trail. When infrastructure is well designed, it accommodates the needs of the area and designs out conflicts between the different groups of peoples using different mobilities to get around.
(A City of Toronto celebration of the Parliament Square bike lanes.)