Naama Blonder, Misha Bereznyak | Smart Density
This submission proposes conflict-free bike routes using existing railway corridors with surplus land. This creation of a network of grade-separated bike trails would complement the existing cycling network, and facilitate safe and fast cycling.
While the GTA municipalities, and especially Toronto, have been improving their cycling infrastructure, in most places the cycling network is only useful for short-distance trips. The reason is that cyclists are forced to frequently stop at intersections just like motorists, but without enjoying the speed or the safety offered by cars. Grade separation provides the opportunity for continuous cycling at a higher average speed and without the effort of stopping and speeding up at each stop.
Besides the direct benefits to its users, the GO Bike network also provides broader social and ecological benefits—improving cycling improves public health by promoting exercise and reducing stress, removing users from dangerous suburban arterial roads improves road safety and reducing travel by car cuts down on air pollution and carbon emissions. On top of that, the project improves social justice since it disproportionately benefits areas away from the core, and many of these areas are home to disadvantaged communities who have seen very few improvements in walkability and cycling infrastructure.
Usually, creating an express network (of anything) is expensive and complicated, but luckily for us, the foundations of this network already exist—in our railway corridors—and it means we have an unusual opportunity to boost our cycling infrastructure cheaply, simply and quickly.
“The key simplicity of this idea is aligned with the theme: creating new uses for undervalued, underutilized infrastructure that is hidden from view. As an immediately realizable idea, this could be implemented tomorrow, providing a safe route through neighbourhoods, vastly increasing cycling use within the city.”
“The project has been able to realize some key ideas and resolve the challenges of creating a safe cycling route through a dense built environment that makes accessible, safe infrastructure for people; the team has resolved key issues of grade-separated crossings in imaginative and exciting ways.”
“This project has the power to be transformative: with very little effort, a new route could be created through the city, opening the potential for development along the corridor, reconnecting communities to a disused rail network and making places for people.”