Cycle City: A Space and Place for the Bicycle in Toronto

Cycle City: A Space and Place for the Bicycle in Toronto

Student Author: 
Stephen Wenzel
Date: 
May 2015
Supervisor(s): 
Mona El Khafif

This analysis investigates strategies for retrofitting the car-dominated North American city through the identification and design of a place for the bicycle. Looking particularly at Toronto, this study seeks to define a unique territory for the cyclist within the existing urban fabric. In order for cycling to become a mainstream form of transportation, one must look beyond the network of bicycle routes to the development of a strong cycling culture. Cycling can only be made irresistible by creating a unique identity and experience, capable of drawing people to their bikes. A broad network approach takes years to implement and generates little excitement as seen in the unachieved 2001 Toronto Bike Plan. Rather, focus must be put towards smaller, well designed projects and routes which can act as catalysts for a changing the perception of cycling within the city. These projects are able to capture people’s attentions, imaginations and emotions; they act as starting points from which cycle city can grow. The purpose of

this research is to locate potential sites and routes for these projects. What are the optimal locations within Toronto to situate cycling catalyst projects so they can best act as instigators for a cycling culture within the city?

The method behind this research employs two primary approaches. The first involves a detailed examination of cycling initiatives in Toronto over the past 40 years in order to identify why they have failed to transform Toronto in to a strong cycling city. Particular attention is drawn to the 2001 Toronto Bike Plan. The second approach involves developing an understanding of the flow of cyclists through the city and then investigating how this movement relates to the existing and proposed cycling infrastructure, routes, and obstacles as well as transit infrastructure.