Report: Increased Economic Activity following Bike Lane Installation in Toronto

Featured image: Summer Reid/Gleaner News

The numbers are in, and it appears as though the controversial installation of bicycle lanes along Bloor Street in Toronto in 2015 has been a success, both for riders and businesses along the well-travelled corridor.

The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) reports that economic activity along the section of Bloor Street that saw bicycle lanes installed was higher than elsewhere along the corridor. The total growth in customer spending in the pilot area was 4.45% (City of Toronto).

A map of the Bloor Street bicycle lanes pilot area (City of Toronto).

In addition, cycling trips nearly tripled between 2015 and 2017, with “most merchants report[ing] a higher number of customers than before the bike lane’s installation” (TCAT). The City of Toronto also indicates that Bloor Street has become the second highest used bikeway in the city, with an average weekday volume of 5,220 riders (City of Toronto). Visitors also “gave higher estimates of spending and visit frequency, and vacancy rates were stable,” states TCAT.

The City of Toronto staff report on the Bloor bicycle lanes supports the TCAT report and recommends keeping the bicycle lanes. Mayor John Tory agreed: “I will support the staff recommendation to keep the bike lanes, with continued improvements to be made to safety, street design and practical improvements for local businesses,” said Tory during a press conference on October 11.

In Vancouver, where the distance of the on-street bike lane network pales in comparison to Toronto’s (62 km compared to 230 km in 2015), trips remained higher in Vancouver, despite the smaller population (Toronto Star). The City of Vancouver continues to invest in active transportation infrastructure and remains one of Canada’s most bike-friendly cities, according to UBC’s School of Population and Public Health.

The TCAT report supports research done by the Health & Community Design Lab into the health and economic impacts of active transportation. For the latest on the HCDL’s work on this subject, please visit the Health & Economic Benefits research webpage, here. The Health & Economic Benefits study is funded by the Real Estate Foundation of BC (REFBC), Metro Vancouver, TransLink, and the City of Vancouver. The project Co-Investigator is Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH).

Read the facts and figures on the City of Toronto’s Bloor Street Bike Lanes webpage.