By Issey Abraha
Ryerson students helped out an advocacy group map out a plan to build safe and affordable bike lanes in east Toronto.
The urban planning students were challenged by their professor to develop the scheme for Ward 30 Bikes, a volunteer group that lobbies for bicyclists in the city’s Ward 30, which includes the neighbourhoods of Danforth Village, Riverdale, East Chinatown and Leslieville.
“It was amazing that the students at Ryerson were able to produce such a high quality, professional report for us,” said Brandon Quigley, co-captain of Ward 30 Bikes, in an email. “Their report would have cost thousands of dollars if it had been done by a planning firm, so we’re extremely appreciative to Ryerson.”
They presented their report at a community on Monday after months of work.
The assignment, which was issued as a challenge by the students’ professor, then became a practical experiment.
“The public meeting was the first opportunity to present to the public findings of the study such as the proposed connections,” said Dan Verbana, professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson, in an email.
“The workshops which followed the presentation were intended to ratify a preferred option for further engagement of residents and businesses and build support towards implementation,” Verbana said.
Many who attended the community meeting last night were supportive of the Ryerson students’ report.
“(It’s a) smart report that the city should be looking to improve cycling in the east end.“ said Toronto Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns in an email.
The objective of last night’s meeting was to find safe ways of getting to the lake without having to drive. The city of Toronto spends less than $9 million a year on cycling infrastructure, which is not enough to build 100 kms protected bike lanes, said Quigley.
He said spending money on bike lanes reduces congestions and pollution, and could boost neighborhood businesses.
“My understanding is that the city’s new bike network plan will be done in the next year, so we’ll be involved in that process,and looking for new bike lanes down to the lake in Ward 30 as part of that plan,” Quigley said.
He said the Ryerson students’ work helped push the cyclist group’s agenda forward.
“The City of Toronto is about to launch consultations on a new bike network plan, so getting one (or more) of these routes as part of that plan will be key, and we think that’s an achievable goal,” said Quigley.