October 12, 2017

Introduction 

  • A pilot project to install and evaluate bike lanes on Bloor Street West between Shaw Street and Avenue Road was approved by Council in May 2016. Installation was completed in August 2016.
  • Public Works and Infrastructure Committee will consider the Bloor Street West Bike Lane Pilot Project Evaluation Report at its meeting on October 18. The report is available here.
  • The importance of the Bloor Corridor for cycling was identified in the City’s Ten-Year Cycling Network Plan.
  • The pilot design objectives were to improve safety, reduce risk for all road users and minimize impacts to curbside operations such as parking, loading, deliveries and waste collection.

 

Staff Recommendation

City Council approve maintaining the eastbound and westbound cycle tracks on Bloor Street West, from Shaw Street to Avenue Road, as a permanent installation, including changes to the current design that will improve safety and operations, as part of 2019 Capital Works on Bloor Street West between Bathurst Street and Avenue Road.

Evaluation Summary

  • The Bloor Street West pilot has become the second highest bike facility by volume in the city.
  • The pilot project has improved safety and reduced risk for all road users.
  • The impact of the pilot on motorist traffic flow and curbside operations (such as parking, loading and deliveries) has been reduced through operational changes.
  • Total customer spending at local businesses within the pilot area has continued to keep pace with economic growth.
  • The survey showed that a majority of drivers (who do not bike) and a majority of business respondents did not support the pilot.
  • There is general support for the pilot from cyclists, drivers (who sometimes bike), pedestrians and those who live in the area.

Performance Evaluation Methodology

The monitoring methodology for the Bloor Street West pilot project has involved the most comprehensive performance evaluation undertaken for a cycling project in Toronto.

Extensive before (June 2016) and after (October 2016 and June 2017) data was collected to evaluate the performance of the pilot in order to assess the impacts and benefits of the project in the following areas:

  • Effect on cycling environment (on Bloor Street West, Dupont Street and Harbord Street)
  • Effect on motoring environment (on Bloor Street West, Dupont Street and Harbord Street)
  • Effect on curbside demands and parking
  • Effect on local business
  • Public perception and level of support from residents and businesses.

Cycling Volumes 

  • Average cyclist volumes on Bloor Street West between Shaw Street and Bay Street increased by approximately 49 per cent, from 3,300 riders per day in June 2016 to approximately 4,900 riders per day in June 2017.
  • The Bloor Street West pilot has become the second highest bike facility by volume in the city with 5,220 cyclists per day in the pilot area.
  • Cyclist volumes on parallel corridors Harbord Street and Dupont Street decreased, as some cyclists re-routed to Bloor Street West. After accounting for re-routed cycling, approximately 25 per cent of the increase is due to new cyclists using Bloor Street West.

Traffic Volume Counts

  • Video was collected using portable video cameras mounted to traffic poles, 24 hours a day for a minimum of three midweek days.
  • The video recordings were then uploaded to a platform which uses software analytics to count and classify traffic.
  • The software detects the traffic in the video and counts/summarizes according to the possible movements.
  • The software classifies the traffic based on the size and speed of the object as well as the lane it was travelling in.
  • In order to provide quality assurance/quality control, a technician from the traffic count company then validates the data, by manually observing/counting random samples of video and comparing it to the software results.
  • City Traffic Management Centre staff undertake additional random checks to validate the counts by manually observing samples of video.

Safety

  • Safety has been improved for all road users within the pilot area.
  • Preliminary collision data shows that despite increased cycling volume, bike/motorized vehicle collisions have remained the same, representing a reduced collision rate.  Collisions between motorized vehicles have been reduced significantly.
  • Before/after conflict analysis showed a 44 per cent decrease in conflicts between all road users.
  • People reported feeling safer using Bloor Street West:
    • Motorists: 66 per cent reported feeling comfortable driving next to cyclists on Bloor Street West after installation compared to 14% of respondents before installation.
    • Cyclists: 85 per cent reported feeling safe riding a bicycle on Bloor Street West compared to 3 per cent before installation.
    • Pedestrians: 86 per cent surveyed feel their experience walking on Bloor Street West with bike lanes installed is about the same or better than it was before installation.

Motor Vehicle Volumes 

  • The average total traffic volumes on Bloor Street West decreased from approximately 24,300 per day prior to the bike lane to 20,000 per day (-16 per cent).
  • There has been modest diversion of traffic volumes, with an increase of 7 per cent to Dupont Street (+1470) and 4 per cent to Harbord Street (+580). Overall traffic volumes across all three corridors is down 3 per cent (-1840).

Motor Vehicle Travel Time 

  • Six weeks after installation, travel times between Bay Street and Ossington Avenue initially increased by approximately four minutes eastbound in the morning peak period and approximately eight and a half minutes westbound in the afternoon peak period.
  • Signal timing adjustments reduced the increases by half – the eastbound direction in the morning peak period was reduced to approximately two minutes and the increase in the westbound direction in the afternoon peak period was reduced to just over four minutes.

Curbside Demands and Parking 

  • Impact to commercial loading and accessibility was mitigated through the introduction of loading zones, accessible loading zones/curb ramps, designated pick-up/drop-off areas and education to encourage use of laneways for deliveries, where appropriate.
  • On-street parking was reduced to one side of the street only, however hours were extended. At peak times, both on-street and off-street parking was at capacity.

 

Effect on Local Business 

  • In October 2015, the Bloor Annex BIA and the Korea Town BIA commissioned a study on the local economic impact of bike lanes on Bloor Street West. On May 3, 2016, City Council directed staff to work with the BIAs on this study, which was already underway.
  • This study found that most merchants reported an increase in customers, most visitors reported spending and visiting more and that vacancy rates are stable.

 

Point of Sale Data

  • Trend data on customer spending from Moneris was obtained by the City to provide an independent and more fulsome understanding of economic trends.
  • When comparing the year before the pilot to the year of the pilot, key findings are:
    • Average per-transaction size has marginally decreased, but it is on trend with other parts of the city.
    • Customer spending increased by 4.45 per cent in the Bloor Street West pilot area, which was more than in the surrounding area and more than the Danforth Avenue control area.

 

Public Perception and Support 

Public opinion on the Bloor Street West bike lanes was primarily measured through an online feedback survey conducted from December 13, 2016 to May 4, 2017.

  • The public online survey received over 14,000 completed responses.
  • Almost half of the respondents were drivers and approximately 64 per cent identified as customers of Bloor Street West businesses.
  • The survey showed that a majority of drivers (who do not bike) and a majority of business respondents did not support the pilot.
  • The survey generally showed support for the pilot project by cyclists, drivers (who sometimes bike), pedestrians and local residents.

 

-30-

 

Media contact: Cheryl San Juan, Strategic Communications, 416-392-4391, Cheryl.SanJuan@toronto.ca