A January EKOS poll showed 79 per cent of Toronto residents support building protected bike lanes.
Now a new EKOS survey, released Sept. 19, shows support has risen to 84 per cent. The city just rolled out the largest cycling network in its history — 40 kilometres this year — and public backing is growing.
Cycling infrastructure is popular with people throughout the metropolis. Support among downtowners stands at 87 per cent, but bike lanes are also endorsed by 83 per cent of North York residents and 80 per cent in Etobicoke. Stereotypes are falling away. Even a majority of motorists — 76 per cent — supports these lanes, as do most people with annual household income above $120,000 (84 per cent).
Results from all three suggest a strong majority want Yonge St. to be more congenial for cyclists and pedestrians.
Most exciting is the widespread support for planet-friendly changes to Yonge St. The pollster asked three questions about Toronto’s most famous thoroughfare. One queried support for Transform Yonge in North York; a second asked about Yonge Tomorrow, a downtown project; a third probed support for putting bike lanes on streets that have subways. Results from all three suggest a strong majority want Yonge St. to be more congenial for cyclists and pedestrians.
Transform Yonge, which would widen sidewalks and create additional room for walkers, outdoor cafés and trees, garnered the most support: 84 per cent overall. No wonder. It would foster physical distancing and benefit struggling businesses, making it well-suited to a COVID-19 environment. It would be popular in the neighbourhood where it would be built.
Support for Transform in North York stands at 86 per cent. It’s also backed by 76 per cent of folks whose main transportation mode is the car. Let’s hope the city approves this project — which would change north Yonge from a dangerous highway to a vibrant main street — when it comes to council this fall.
It enjoys support from diverse groups: 70 per cent of motorists, 78 per cent of folks making over $120,000 and 77 per cent of residents 55 years and older.
Yonge Tomorrow, which would pedestrianize portions of Yonge St. between Dundas St. and Gerrard St. and install bike lanes between Gerrard St. and College St., is backed by 79 per cent of residents. That’s up from 72 per cent in January. It enjoys support from diverse groups: 70 per cent of motorists, 78 per cent of folks making over $120,000 and 77 per cent of residents 55 years and older.
This strong thumbs-up is not surprising. The proposal — which should come to council in December — is eminently reasonable; it creates pedestrian space in a heavily walked neighbourhood while allowing cars access to the roadway.
At present, there’s no bike lane on a north-south street that runs the length of the city. Yonge would be a brilliant candidate. It would cost-effectively move thousands of residents daily, facilitate social distancing and prove popular with the vast majority of Torontonians.
(EKOS surveyed a random sample of 814 Toronto residents Aug. 31 to Sept. 8. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)
This op-ed was originally published in The Star