Don’t put bike lanes on main streets

Bike lanes aren’t a 21th-century transportation solution if they’re placed on main streets. They become a politically correct obstruction to vital traffic flow in North America’s fourth largest working city.

Further, bike lanes are for most a fair-weather option. Bike-users pay no road taxes and proliferate only in good weather, which doesn’t describe Toronto’s year-round climate.

Reserving bike users to side streets makes sense and that’s the option Toronto should adopt.

Also, requiring bike registration, insurance and licence fees is only sensible and fair, especially considering the huge expense and disruption caused by cyclists in some areas of the city such as Harbourfront. (And no, they’re not in the same class as pedestrians so there’s no call for a pedestrian licence since that’s paid for by their taxes.)

As an untaxed citizen group, cyclists should be regarded and taxed as vehicular users of Toronto streets.

During Jennifer Keesmaat’s reign as city planner, Toronto wasted a fortune on pretty but little-used bike infrastructure on main streets.

As for the stalled Bombardier streetcar order: Perhaps it’s actually a good-news story that streetcar deliveries are hung up. Streetcars are ridiculous on a busy city street. They stall traffic and so often are mostly empty except during rush hour. Buses, including electric trolleys like Toronto had when I came here in 1981, are much more sensible because they are articulate and don’t halt traffic because they can move to a curb for passengers just as diesel buses do.

The next wrinkle in vehicular options is battery-powered self-driving cars and trucks. That’s getting closer to reality and it will put even more motorized vehicles on our streets that shouldn’t have to squeeze in for bike riders or try to dodge around traffic-clogging streetcars.

— Frank Touby

Your comments are welcomed. Email with your viewpoint on this issue. Include the words “on bike lanes”.


  1. Haven Greenshields

    I agree that the waterfront trail is horrible for pedestrians and cars. I’ve seen bikes run right into and knock over pedestrians who do not notice they are on a bike path due to all the other distractions of being near the lake.

  2. Yes, I did criticize what you call a “highly successful waterfront trail.” It’s not so successful for pedestrians who on busy days must dodge speeding bikes who seemingly think the trail is not to be shared.

  3. “…vital traffic flow…” Are you are aware that pedestrians and cyclists are “traffic” too, Frank?

    I’ve been living in this city a lot longer than you have but I have never driven a car or even applied for a license to do so.

    Despite that happy freedom, one has been able to move around my hometown on foot, bicycle, cargo tricycle and the TTC, 365 days a year for more than fifty years.

    On top of that, one has also covered hundreds of thousands of small-load freight and document delivery kilometres during a quarter-century long career as a foot, bike, transit courier.

    Your views on urban transportation are neither original or accurate. But they do reflect a majority automotive bias that has already doomed our city to decades of unnecessary pollution and irresponsible street-level congestion.

    Sadly, your grasp of what constitutes safe, efficient, sustainable 21st urban mobility seems founded upon a personal automobile addiction. In this, you are not alone, of course.

    You have, as have we all, been subjected to a lifetime of North American auto industry propaganda which has possibly restricted your ability to bring any rational skepticism to the gridlocked status quo. Granted, it takes some personal effort to shake said brainwashing. And it is more difficult for some than others.

    But why on earth you would choose to here publicly express such ill-informed, long disproven opinion regarding necessary in-town transportation improvement is anyone’s guess. Do you simply assume you know what you are talking about based on a questionable career in auto-ad dollar reliant journalism?

    Whatever your excuse, you are on the wrong side of history here, sir.

    Alan Wayne Scott
    Automotive Dependence Reduction Officer (retired)

  4. Actually, electric cars will be limited, even tho every car maker is saying the best of it for the future.
    We do not have an option for batteryes that does not require an extensive amount of Lithium.
    Just for ONE carmaker (the Volkswagen group for example) the prediction of production of battery for the 2020/2025 cannot be reached because of the little amount of lithium and other materials that we extract from the ground every year..

    I do believe that bike lanes need to be put on the main ways of traffic and that a tax should be put by the city or the governement on the sale of bike, but a bike licence is not the solution.
    Will you licence the kids, the teenagers and the professionnal cyclists that are doing that for sport ?

    “litlte used bike infrastructure” ?
    Do you mean the bloor bike lanes that 10.000 peoples use every day ?
    Also, it is not because you would not use your bike in the winter and the ‘chilly’ -40°C weather that winter bring us, that others won’t.
    I have seen many cyclists on the roads in the winter, and I bet we will see as many for the next few years.

    No, Toronto should take example on Montréal and bring the cyclists even closer to the road users.

  5. 1) Side streets in Toronto generally don’t go east-west, so there is nowhere to install bike lanes that actually go anywhere. 2) There’s no such thing as a ROAD TAX. I have a car and I’ve never paid road tax. Road maintenance comes out of general revenue. Your position is like saying: Children don’t pay taxes, so why are we providing crossing guards? Why: SAFETY. Public safety should come before and of Mr. Touby’s libertarian nightmare fantasies.

  6. As a senior citizen who travels by cycle 11 months of the year I couldn’t agree with most of your comments, some of which reminded me of an utterance of the late Rob Ford who stated that ” it’s not a matter of if, a cyclist will be killed in traffic, it’s just a matter of when”. I presume if every driver was as intemperate as him, that might well be true.

    As you doubtfully are aware, roads were designated for the use of horses and cycles, cars were later “licensed” to use them. Since then, roads like the 400 series were built exclusively for motor vehicles.

    You stressed that we are a large No. American city and with it we have large city problems. The Netherlands 25 or so years ago was right where we are now, cities that were paralyzed by gridlock because too many large, underutilized, polluting vehicles (cars) were to blame. Forward thinking legislation cut the space allocated for cars and promoted bus and bicycle travel, the result has been nothing short of a miracle, people realized that using a polluting vehicle, usually with one occupant, that uses half of the footprint of a bus didn’t show a lot of intelligence and was a very slow way to commute. We should be doing the same in Toronto, dedicated bus and cycling lanes. Car drivers seldom shop along the route they take from home to work and back again anyway.

    You implied, incorrectly that cyclists don’t pay taxes by stating we don’t pay road tax. City of Toronto street building and maintenance comes from general City of Toronto tax revenues that a higher percentage of bus riders and cyclists, being local, pay into. A lot of our auto congestion comes from the 905 and beyond. The so called “road tax” is a misnomer it is a sales tax that goes into the provinces general coffers.

    You displayed your dislike for cyclists in general, none more profoundly than when you criticized the highly successful waterfront trail. On the question of compulsory insurance; whenever a cyclist or pedestrian can cause the amount of destruction as a car, then everyone will stand behind you in this demand.