The Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area (BIA) is opposing newly proposed bike lanes along Bloor Street West. The group that represents businesses in the neighbourhood sent a letter addressed to Mayor John Tory and a city councillor. It asks that its concerns be heard and included in the ActiveTO bike project.
The BIA claims that bike lanes will be a detriment to struggling businesses and future events such as parades.
“…the future of all parades and events for Bloor Street and the Danforth will be in jeopardy to include: Santa Claus Parade, PRIDE Parade, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Yorkville Exotic Car Show, which to date has raised in excess of $400,000 for Prostate Cancer Canada, TD Toronto Jazz festival and any other future events,” the letter states.
The organization also claims that Bloor businesses invest money into the upkeep of the street.
“The Bloor Street businesses paid more than $13 million to improve the street and continue to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for trees, flowers, and street maintenance, well above the current City standard,” the letter stated.
Bloor currently has “sharrowed” lanes that allow both bikes and cars to share marked areas, an arrangement the BIA says has “worked well.”
The BIA is concerned that the temporary bike lanes would become a permanent fixture impacting the number of consumers frequenting Bloor shops.
“While we recognize that this proposal is being presented as a temporary response to the COVID-19 crisis, we expect that the City will be pressured to make these bike lanes permanent,” the organization wrote.
Bloor-Yorkville BIA writes to Council opposing Bloor bike lanes in ActiveTO plan. Letter says sharrows are working well and claims bike lanes will mean “the future of all parades and events for Bloor Street and the Danforth will be in jeopardy.” https://t.co/S6CX1YkR3i (PDF)
— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) May 27, 2020
City columnist, Matt Elliott, took to Twitter to express his concerns over the BIA’s statements.
“The thing I don’t get is it’s not like installing bike lanes along downtown streets is a new idea. It’s been done in cities all over the world. You’d think opponents would be able to cite plenty of actual examples of the economic devastation they say will come, but they never do,” Elliott wrote.
Other cyclists added to Elliott’s initial tweet with similar sentiments relating the city’s new bike lane plans to successful lane additions in Vancouver and Amsterdam. The BIA is asking that the city include Bloor businesses in its plans and consult with storeowners before implementing temporary or permanent bike lanes.
“Should we lose a significant number of retailers in the coming months, it will take a decade for the street to recover. Further financial hardships will impact Bloor Street rental rates, negatively impacting City’s ability to maintain commercial property tax revenue, thus, increasing pressure on residential property tax mill rates. Our retailers need your help now,” the letter concluded.
The ActiveTO plan is going before city council for approval on May 28.