TORONTO  Ontario’s new Municipal Commuter Cycling Program will help more residents leave the car at home and safely cycle to work or school.

The four-year program will support infrastructure such as cycling networks between transit stations, separated bike lanes and cycling signals.

Money for the program will come from the province’s cap-and-trade carbon pricing system.

“Last fall, we urged Ontario to build physically separated bicycle lanes,” said Foundation policy analyst Gideon Forman. “We’re grateful that the province listened to us and other experts and is now fully committed. Protected bike lanes provide incentives for cycling because they offer riders — especially young ones — far more protection than painted lines on a road.”

Research by scientists at McGill University shows a correlation between safe cycling infrastructure and increased ridership. “We’ve seen this on the Bloor bike lane in Toronto,” Forman said. “A couple of months after it opened, the number of cyclists using Bloor rose 36 per cent.”

The Foundation is campaigning to make the pilot Bloor bike lane permanent and is advocating for lanes on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue and Yonge Street.

One shortcoming in the new provincial program is its failure to mandate lower speed limits. The City of Toronto is reducing speeds on many streets, and the Foundation urged the province to implement this practice in all municipalities.

“Lower speeds save lives — something cyclists know all too well,” Forman said.

Despite this shortfall, the Foundation believes the new cycling program shows the value of cap-and-trade.

“There’s something beautiful about a system that legislates industrial emissions reductions while helping to expand bike lanes,” Forman said.

“It puts a price on things we don’t want so we’re able to build things we do want.”

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Gideon Forman
Transportation Policy Analyst
David Suzuki Foundation